The Bucking Broncho: The NCAA Championship Didn’t Live Up To Potential
North Carolina guard Joel Berry II wears the net around his neck after the championship game against Gonzaga at the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. North Carolina 71-65. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
College basketball may be at its lowest point, but the NCAA Championship game still holds as much weight as it did 30 years ago. Monday night, North Carolina; storied franchise and alma-mater of the NBA’s greatest ever, Michael Jordan, went to battle against Gonzaga, a former Cinderella team that recently earned their stripes as a legitimate, big-time basketball program.
This was a game that people were really looking forward to because of the peculiar match-up. Everyone wanted to see how the Zags would compete against the Tarheels. Gonzaga ended up losing the game, but what should’ve gone down as one of the more entertaining championship games turned into one of the worst in recent history, all because of the officials.
It started out as a decent game, but as it progressed the officials regressed in their performance. They began to call the game as if it was the little leagues, trying to teach the kids basic fundamentals. Their caliber of officiating wasn’t up to par with the level of competition, the largest stage of college basketball.
These games are approximately two hours long, but this exceeded the length of the average NBA game, with it lasting over two and a half hours.
At least the calls were equally bad for both teams. There were 44 fouls in the game, with the teams splitting the count evenly. The majority of those calls were in the second half when you typically see more intense, physical play. Not to mention one of the most obvious calls wasn’t so obvious to the officials, as they missed a North Carolina player’s hand touch the out-of-bounds line while touching the ball.
That was another lost possession for Gonzaga that shouldn’t have happened. The rhythm was interrupted and the game quickly turned into a free throw shooting contest. Shots stopped falling. By the end of the game, Gonzaga’s shooting percentage decreased to 33.9 percent and the national champion, North Carolina, only shot 35.6 percent and 14.7 percent from the 3-point line.
Unfortunately, these kids can’t say they got to decide the fate of the game. They can’t say they put it all on the line and played a fair, competitive game. With it ending in an extremely close, 71-65 game, a couple of the various questionable foul calls could have been the deciding factor of this game. The Tarheels will take the win, but in the back of their heads, they know this could have gone either way, which could hamper the celebration their sixth championship, third-most among division one college basketball programs.
Gonzaga’s program definitely hurts after losing this game, but the season they had will set the trend for future teams. This won’t be the last time they play on this stage. I just wish we could have seen this game played out in its purest form.