By: Bobby Tuzzio, Sports Editor
Last Monday, the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team won the National Championship in a barn-burner against Gonzaga. This is the Tar Heels first title since 2009 and sixth total, previously winning in 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, and 2009. The game was close all the way through, as Gonzaga had a three point lead going into the half. The second half was an exchange of leads between the two teams, who both had stellar performances throughout the tournament. The Tar Heels and the Bulldogs came into the tournament as the number one seeds in their respective regions. They both cruised their way all the way to the Final Four, where they faced tough matchups against the University of South Carolina and the University of Oregon; both of those games were extremely close all the way to the end, with the UNC game ending with a last second basket by Luke Maye.
Fouls plagued the game, as both teams found themselves in trouble late in the game. It was close until the very end, but it was the Tar Heels who came up clutch down the stretch, playing incredible defense. On the other end of the floor, they made big buckets that put them ahead as Gonzaga’s lineup started to shrink due to players in foul trouble. UNC player Kennedy Meeks had a huge block on the defensive end down the stretch that solidified the game for the Tar Heels. North Carolina would go on to win the game 71-65.
For Gonzaga, it was a season that had defied expectations. Even though they were ranked number one in the nation at one point in the season, many people, including myself, had thought that Gonzaga would be a bust in the tournament. Since they played in a weak conference, there were concerns about how the Bulldogs would do against strong teams from conferences such as the ACC, the PAC-12, and the Big Ten. Gonzaga would prove everyone wrong by earning their first trip to the Final Four in school history. With their win over South Carolina, the Bulldogs found themselves pitted against an incredible Tar Heels team in the title game. One can only wonder if next year Gonzaga does what UNC did this year: return to the championship game and win it all. We’ll have to wait and see.