North Carolina stuffs Gonzaga to win NCAA basketball championship

Referee Mike Eades called a held ball and North Carolina retained possession, and then used that possession to score the biggest basket of the game. North Carolina's Joel Berry II (2) celebrates after the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Gonzaga, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. With Justin Jackson shut out from 3-point range on six attempts, North Carolina's awful 2 of 13 first half from outside brought down a shooting percentage that struggled Saturday with a 36.8 percent night against Oregon.

Gonzaga center Zach Collins is the first casualty of the foul-fest in the NCAA championship game.

If your bracket is in shambles, you can blame these teams.

North Carolina (33-7) won its sixth national championship and third under coach Roy Williams, who also guided the Tar Heels to titles in 2005 and 2009. Smith reportedly told Williams not to step away from the game at such a young age as he did, and surely all Tar Heels fans are hoping that coach Williams heeds that advice in the wake of yet another national championship victory.

The strategy was effective as Jackson's length frustrated Williams-Goss, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting.

With 49.1 seconds to play and North Carolina leading 66-65, Meeks battled Gonzaga's Silas Melson for a loose ball.

Joel Berry has a game-high 13 points and 4 assists while Kennedy Meeks has 6 points and 9 boards. It was the reason UNC was able to overcome atrocious shooting, including a 4-of-27 mark from 3-point range.

"Those were three of the best officials in the entire country - NBA, college or anything", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. The Tar Heels missed 11 of 26 free throws and collected three fewer rebounds.

The surprise of the Final Four
Calipari credited the late turnaround to his team's ability to regroup following losses to Tennessee, Kansas and Florida. The Gators were trying for their sixth Final Four appearance and that includes the titles in 2006 and 2007.

While he struggled in Saturday's semifinal win over OR with 11 points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field, he came through when it mattered to help North Carolina win its sixth national championship in school history, one year after losing in the final to Villanova.

Wagering trends released by William Hill US on Monday night show that 64 percent of the bets on the money line wager are backing Gonzaga to win the NCAA Tournament. Still, the oddsmakers put Carolina as a two-point favorite - just as they did over Villanova previous year - and if some of that was on reputation, well, it wasn't the first time.

Gonzaga did end up taking a two-point shot which was cleanly blocked by the Tar Heels. As it turned out, that was the final time the Bulldogs scored.

Gonzaga entered with only one loss in 38 games.

The Bulldogs (37-2) were seeking to become the first team from a non-power conference to win the NCAA tournament since UNLV in 1990.

At the outset of the game the Gonzaga Bulldogs looked like the better team.

Both teams have size in the middle and quality depth at the position.

Both had to dispatch tough opponents on the way to the finals. Notably, Justin Jackson (6-19 FG) quickly discovered that despite having a significant size advantage over each of Gonzaga's wings, he was not immune to the stifling defense that had bested dynamic scorers in Sindarius Thornwell, Trevon Bluiett, and Mike Daum before him.


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