I stayed up late to watch the North Carolina-Gonzaga NCAA Men’s Championship game Monday night.
Since both teams were No. 1 seeds in their brackets (only eighth time in history), I was primed to forfeit sleep to see what I thought would be a classic championship game.
Silly me. It was one of the worst games to watch in recent memory.
It should be made into a documentary titled “The Gangs That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.’’
North Carolina hit only 26 of 73 shots (35.6 percent). And won. The Tar Heels missed 23 of 27 3-point shots. And won. North Carolina had 14 turnovers to Gonzaga’s four. And won.
So how bad was Gonzaga? Pretty bad. The Zig-Zags nailed only 20 of 59 shots (33.9 percent). They shot better from 3-point land (8 of 19 for 42.1 percent).
And then there was the officiating crew, deemed by the NCAA as its top three officials in the country. I don’t know which country.
After UNC trailed 35-32 at halftime, the officials must have drank some powerful energy drinks. They whistled 27 fouls in the second half alone.
I’m can only hope that parents sent their children to bed at halftime, as it was on a school night. If the kiddies watched the second half, they might drop playing basketball and stick with soccer.
“It was an ugly game,’’ Carolina Coach Roy Williams offered, “because two teams really wanted it badly and the other team wasn’t going to allow them to have easy things.’’
The Tar Heels outscored the Zags 39-30 in the second half. Joel Berry II saved the night with his 22 points on a gimpy ankle. It took him 19 shots to do it. Justin Jackson made the go-ahead play with 1:40 on the game clock. He was fouled on a basket and made the free throw. Jackson has been a 3-point threat all season. He was 0-for-9 against the Zags.
And Carolina won.
They deserved it. Gonzaga’s big men hadn’t faced a team like Carolina, whose bigs are long and strong and affected the Zags. The Zags’ big men were in foul trouble much of the second half, which helped Carolina’s cause.
“I don’t think either team played exceptionally well offensively,’’ Williams said. “I don’t think either team got into a real good flow. The fouls were a part of it.’’
It seemed to me both teams endorsed Tennessee football coach Butch Jones’ brick by brick motto.
Williams got his third national championship. It was a sixth for the Tar Heels.
As sloppy as the game was, the TV ratings were up 30 percent over last year’s Villanova-North Carolina final. It was decided when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer for the game winner.
Thus the Tar Heels adopted this year’s game mantra as getting revenge for last year’s loss.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.