North Carolina Tar Heels Win NCAA National Championship in Men’s Basketball
On Monday night, the North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 to win its seventh championship in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
It was only the eighth time, two number one seeds played in the national championship game. Ironically, the Bulldogs had not beaten a team ranked as high as the number six AP ranked Tar Heels since November 22, 2006 when Gonzaga beat number two ranked North Carolina 82-74.
Despite making 18 straight NCAA tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and three Elite Eight berths, Gonzaga had never made the Final Four or the championship game. It was the one hole on Gonzaga coach Mark Few’s resume. This year the Bulldogs had the top ranked offense and 15th ranked defense.
North Carolina is playing in its 11th NCAA basketball championship game. The Tar Heels have won seven championships and the last one before tonight was in 2009. They have been in a record 20 Final Fours. The storied collegiate team are also returning to the championship game after losing to the Villanova Wildcats last year. Head coach Roy Williams won his fourth championship after having won in 2005 and 2009. The Wildcats’ Kris Jenkins drained a three-point shot in the last seconds of a tied game to beat the Tar Heels.
Gonzaga Led 35-32 at Halftime Behind Good Shooting & Rebounding
In the first half, Gonzaga and junior guard Josh Perkins shot very well to lead 35-32 at halftime. Perkins made three of four three-point shots and scored 13 points. The Tar Heels were 9 for 26 overall and made just 2 of 13 three-point attempts.
Gonzaga also rebounded better than North Carolina in the first half. The nation’s best offensive rebounding team, the Tarheels only managed five offensive rebounds. Gonzaga tried to go its big men Przemek Kanowski and Johnathan Williams, but the Tar Heels defended well with Isiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks.
North Carolina Came Out Strong in Second Half
After halftime, the Tar Heels came out with a lot more energy and quickly closed the gap and took the lead. North Carolina score the first eight points of the second half to lead 40-35.
Gonzaga regained their composure and scored two three-point shots by Zach Collins and Jordan Matthews to led 41-40. Collins however soon received his fourth foul with over 15 minutes left. North Carolina kept the game close despite the shooting woes of Justin Jackson who missed all seven of his three-point shots and shote only 3 for 13 overall.
Both Teams Struggled With their Shots
However, both teams struggled with their shots in the game. Gonzaga’s Kanowski was 1 for 8. With a little less than two minutes to go in the game, the score was tied 65-65. The Bulldogs never scored again and the Tar Heels scored the last six points of the game to win their seventh national championship. Joel Berry II overcame injuries to both of his ankles to win the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tournament.