By Remi Manna
University of North Carolina played Villanova for the NCAA national basketball championship in 2016. Everyone thought the game was going to go into overtime when Marcus Paige made a circus shot to tie the game up. After the timeout, Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer beater three pointer which won the game for Villanova. They were then named the 2016 NCAA national champions. North Carolina had to wait an entire year in order to redeem themselves from this loss.
This year they faced a similar challenge of being so close to becoming NCAA champions. However, this time they made sure to not put themselves in a heartbreaking situation. “The Tar Heels won their sixth national title, beating Gonzaga 71-65 in the NCAA Tournament finals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Monday night, with the key pay being a late-game block by center Kennedy Meeks,” according to Xchange. This is Coach Roy Williams’ third time leading his team to victory and becoming the NCAA champions. This year the players on the team were different. University of North Carolina lost two of their key players, Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, but that didn’t stop the Tar Heels from repeating their actions and making it to the final game and dominating Gonzaga.
The game contained a lot of late whistles and foul calls, which upset the fans watching. NBA all-star LeBron James even commented on twitter about how he felt about the referees in the UNC Gonzaga game: “Man I can’t watch this anymore! I would like to see the kids decide who wins the game! I mean Bruh!! Smh.” These challenges did not stop Junior Guard, Joel Berry II, who was named MVP of both the game and final four. He finished with twenty-two points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals, and one block. He did his job on both defense and offense ensuring that he led his team to a victory. Both UNC center, Kennedy Meeks, and Gonzaga center, Przemek Karnowski had 4 fouls in the halfway mark in the second half.
Gonzaga came out very strong having plenty of leads over the Tar Heels, but completely fell apart in the second half. With their center, Karnowski, being limited to minutes because of his conditioning. On top of him not being in the best condition, he was also in foul trouble which interrupted their initial plans. Gonzaga star guard, William-Goss, has been leading Gonzaga the whole way scoring many points against numerous teams. Before this game, they had only lost one game out of the entire season and that loss was to Butler, a game that was extremely close. William-Goss and Przemek Karnowski didn’t bring enough to the table to get their team over the Tar Heels. William-Goss only had fifteen points shooting 5 of 17 from the field while Karnowski had nine points and shot 1 of 8 from the field. In the back of the Tar Heels’ minds they thought of how Kris Jenkins and Villanova celebrated on the court last year, as they went back to the locker room feeling defeated. This year they were feeling the total opposite and celebrated all week long feeling redeemed and excited that they could bring North Carolina to their sixth NCAA national championship.