2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Game

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2017 NCAA Tournament Championship Game
National Championship Game
12 Total
Gonzaga 3530 65
North Carolina 3239 71
DateApril 3, 2017
ArenaUniversity of Phoenix Stadium
LocationGlendale, Arizona
MVPJoel Berry II, North Carolina
FavoriteNorth Carolina by 2
Referee(s)Verne Harris, Michael Stephens, & Mike Eades[1]
Attendance76,168
United States TV coverage
NetworkCBS
AnnouncersJim Nantz (play-by-play)
Bill Raftery and Grant Hill  (color)
Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
Nielsen Ratings14.5/24 (22.998 million viewers)

The 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Game was the final game of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. It determined the national champion for the 2016–17 NCAA Division I men's basketball season. The game was played on April 3, 2017, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the North Carolina Tar Heels. North Carolina defeated Gonzaga, 71–65, to win its sixth men's basketball national championship.[2]

This was the first national championship game to be played in a state in either the Mountain or Pacific time zones since the 1995 game, which was held at the Kingdome in Seattle, Washington.[3] North Carolina was playing in its second consecutive title game (and eleventh overall), after losing to Villanova at the buzzer the previous year.[4] Meanwhile, Gonzaga was playing in its first-ever title game.[5] It was the second national title game in three years – and the eighth overall – to be played between two No. 1 seeds.[6][7]

Background[edit]

Gonzaga[edit]

In his seventeenth year at the helm, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few led the team to its first Final Four and national championship game in school history, following a sweet sixteen appearance the year before.[8] The team opened the season winning their first two games prior to competing in the AdvoCare Invitational. The Bulldogs beat Quinnipiac and Florida in order to reach the championship game versus Iowa State. The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and held it through half time, reaching eighteen points in the second-half.[9] However, with four minutes to go the Cyclones rallied to cut the Bulldogs' lead to one at 70-69.[9] Gonzaga won the game 72-21 as Iowa State missed a potential three-point shot as time expired to leave.[9] This was their third time winning the event after previously doing so in 2008 and 2012.[9] Following their defeated of South Dakota, Gonazaga entered their conference season with an undefeated record and broke the school record for most consecutive wins to start a season with twelve.[10]

After a 29–1 regular season and winning the 2017 West Coast Conference regular season championship, Gonzaga beat Pacific and Santa Clara en route to the 2017 West Coast Conference Tournament Finals, where they defeated Saint Mary's.[11] The Bulldogs were the #1 seed in the West Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.[12]

In the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, after a tightly contested first half against South Dakota State, Jordan Mathews' 16 points and Przemek Karnowski's three consecutive baskets built a 20-point lead with 5 minutes left, helping Gonzaga to come away with a 66–46 win.[13] In the second round game against Northwestern, Wildcat head coach Chris Collins, trailing by five with five minutes left – after trailing by as many as 22 in the second half – stomped onto the court when a goal-tending call was missed.[14] Collins subsequently drew a technical foul, thereby dooming Northwestern's chances of winning the game, as Gonzaga would prevail to win 79–73.[14]

In Gonzaga's Sweet 16 game against West Virginia, Mathews hit a go-ahead three-pointer with less than a minute remaining to give Gonzaga a 60–58 lead. Gonzaga won the game 61–58 and advanced to the Elite Eight.[15] In the Elite Eight, led by Nigel Williams-Goss' 23-point performance, Gonzaga routed Xavier 83–59 to reach the Final Four for the first time in school history.[16]

Gonzaga defeated South Carolina 77–73 in the Final Four led by 23 points from Williams-Goss and 27 points from Gonzaga's big men.[5] A Josh Perkins foul preventing Sindarius Thornwell's game-tying three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left enabled the Bulldogs to advance to the championship game.[5]

North Carolina[edit]

After a 26–6 regular season, North Carolina beat Miami (FL) in the ACC Tournament before losing to Duke in the semifinals.[17][18] Despite the loss, North Carolina was selected as the top seed in the South regional as an at-large.[19]

In the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Justin Jackson broke out of a shooting slump and led North Carolina with 21 points to a 103–64 win over Texas Southern.[20] In the second round against Arkansas, after blowing a 17-point first half lead and trailing 65–60 with under three minutes remaining, Kennedy Meeks led a North Carolina comeback with 16 points and a huge tip-in with 44.2 seconds remaining to put UNC ahead 68–65 as they survived to win 72–65, and advance to the Sweet 16.[21]

In the Sweet 16, Joel Berry II and Jackson led North Carolina to a 92–80 win over Butler with 26 and 24 points, respectively, to advance to the Elite Eight for the 26th time in program history.[22] In an Elite Eight showdown between two college basketball blue bloods, North Carolina beat Kentucky 75–73 on a jump shot by Luke Maye with 0.3 seconds left, advancing to its second consecutive appearance – and record-setting 20th overall appearance – in the Final Four.[23] Maye's shot is additionally remarkable for its similarities to Duke player Christian Laettner's shot against Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight 25 years earlier. Both Maye and Laettner wore the number 32;[24] both games involved a No. 1 seed blue-wearing team from North Carolina playing against No. 2 seed Kentucky in the Elite Eight; and both scored a long two-pointer at or near the buzzer to win the game. Laettner himself noted the similarities in a tweet.[25]

Next, North Carolina defeated Oregon 77–76 in the Final Four to advance to the championship game.[4] Meeks led the Tar Heels with a double-double – a career-high 25 points and 14 rebounds – including an important offensive rebound of a Berry missed free throw with 4.0 seconds left to clinch the victory.[4]

Team rosters[edit]

2016–17 Gonzaga Bulldogs roster
No. Name Position Height Weight Class
0 Silas Melson G 6-4 195 Jr.
2 Jack Beach G 6-2 175 So.
3 Johnathan Williams F 6-9 228 Rs. Jr.
4 Jordan Mathews G 6-4 203 Sr.
5 Nigel Williams-Goss G 6-3 195 Rs. Jr.
10 Bryan Alberts G 6-5 198 Rs. So.
13 Josh Perkins G 6-3 190 Rs. So.
14 Jacob Larsen C 6-11 227 Fr.
15 Rem Bakamus G 6-0 173 Rs. Sr.
21 Rui Hachimura F 6-8 225 Fr.
22 Jeremy Jones F 6-6 210 Rs. So.
23 Zach Norvell Jr. G 6-5 205 Fr.
24 Przemek Karnowski C 7-1 300 Rs Sr.
25 Ryan Edwards C 7-1 230 Rs. Jr.
32 Zach Collins F 7-0 230 Fr.
33 Killian Tillie F 6-10 200 Fr.
55 Duane Triano G 6-3 180 Rs. Jr.
Reference:[26][27]
2016–17 North Carolina Tar Heels roster
No. Name Position Height Weight Class
0 Nate Britt G 6-1 175 Sr.
1 Theo Pinson F/G 6-6 211 Jr.
2 Joel Berry II G 6-0 195 Jr.
3 Kennedy Meeks F 6-10 260 Sr.
4 Isaiah Hicks F 6-9 242 Jr.
5 Tony Bradley F 6-10 240 Fr.
11 Shea Rush F 6-6 200 Fr.
13 Kanler Coker G 6-4 200 Sr.
14 Brandon Robinson G 6-5 162 Fr.
21 Seventh Woods G 6-2 180 Fr.
24 Kenny Williams G 6-4 180 So.
25 Aaron Rohlman F 6-6 210 Jr.
30 Stilman White G 6-1 178 Jr.
32 Luke Maye F 6- 352 So.
44 Justin Jackson F/G 6-8 210 Jr.
Reference:[28][29]

Media coverage[edit]

University of Phoenix Stadium, the site of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Game

The game was televised in the United States by CBS.[30] ESPN International had the media rights outside of the United States.[31]

Radio coverage in the United States was provided by Westwood One.[32]

Game summary[edit]

CBS
Monday, April 3
6:20 pm MST
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs 65, #1 North Carolina Tar Heels 71
Scoring by half: 35–32, 30–39
Pts: N. Williams-Goss – 15
Rebs: N. Williams-Goss – 9
Asts: N. Williams-Goss – 6
Pts: J. Berry II – 22
Rebs: K. Meeks – 10
Asts: J. Berry II – 6
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ
Attendance: 76,168
Referees: Verne Harris, Michael Stephens, Mike Eades

Gonzaga led North Carolina at the half, 35–32.[2] North Carolina outscored Gonzaga in the second half, 39–30, to win the championship. Gonzaga was up two points with 1:52 remaining, but North Carolina came back and clinched the victory in the closing minutes.[2]

North Carolina won despite a poor (4-for-27) conversion rate of 3-point shots, and the Tar Heals made more points from free-throw conversions (15-for-26). The game included a total of 44 fouls.[33] Overall, there were 26 free-throws for each side,[34] leading the Associated Press report to deride the game as merely a free-throw contest.[2]

Criticism[edit]

In contrast to the positive reaction[35] to the previous year's title game—in which UNC lost to Villanova at the buzzer—many criticized the quality of play in the 2017 championship. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams did so as well, commenting during the trophy presentation ceremony that "neither team played very well."[36]

The media generally blamed officiating for the game's low quality. Both teams were in the bonus eight minutes into the second half. The Associated Press labeled the game "unwatchable."[2] Mark Tracy of the New York Times declared it a "sluggish slog of a national title game."[37] Myron Medcalf, writing for ESPN, wrote that the game was blighted with "an abundance of foul calls, poor offense and a sleep-inducing rhythm."[38] Chris Chase of Fox Sports lamented how the referees had "ruined" the contest through a combination of incorrect foul calls, missed calls, and superfluous use of instant replay.[39] Tom Ley of Deadspin condemned the game as "memorably disgusting."[40]

Multiple prominent current and former basketball players vocalized their distaste for the game's quality of officiating on social media, including LeBron James,[41] Dwyane Wade,[41] James Worthy,[41] and Jay Williams.[42]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four Records Book (pdf). NCAA. 2018. pp. 37, 309. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 22, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Associated Press. "Redemption: Tar Heels take title over Gonzaga in ugly game". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on 2017-10-27.
  3. ^ Stevens, Patrick (2017-03-26). "2017 March Madness: The Final Four from A to Z". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  4. ^ a b c Associated Press (2017-04-02). "UNC rides Kennedy Meeks past Oregon, into final vs. Gonzaga". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2017-09-18.
  5. ^ a b c Associated Press (2017-04-01). "Gonzaga holds off late charge by South Carolina, advances to final". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  6. ^ Medworth, Whitney (2017-04-03). "North Carolina defeats Gonzaga 2017 live updates: Scores and highlights from NCAA title game". SB Nation. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  7. ^ OddsShark.com (2017-04-02). "Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. North Carolina Tar Heels: Odds, March Madness Betting Pick". Bleacher Report. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  8. ^ Karen Crouse (April 1, 2017). "Gonzaga Beats South Carolina in Final Four for Shot at Another First". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d Seattle Times staff (November 27, 2016). "No. 11 Gonzaga men beat No. 21 Iowa State to win AdvoCare Invitational". Seattle Times. Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 28, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  10. ^ "Collins leads No. 7 Gonzaga over South Dakota 102-65". Boston Herald. Associated Press. December 22, 2016. Archived from the original on October 20, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  11. ^ Boone, Kyle (2017-03-08). "March Madness: Gonzaga wins WCC tournament title, eyes No. 1 seed". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  12. ^ Odom, Joel (2017-03-12). "Gonzaga Bulldogs get No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament West Region: Did committee get it right?". OregonLive.com. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  13. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-16). "Mathews helps Zags slowly pull away for 66-46 win over South Dakota State". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  14. ^ a b Associated Press (2017-03-18). "Northwestern's run ends with second round loss to Gonzaga". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  15. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-24). "Gonzaga advances to third Elite Eight in school history with 61-58 win over West Virginia". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  16. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-25). "Top-seeded Gonzaga reaches first Final Four with rout of Xavier". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  17. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-10). "No. 6 North Carolina stops Miami 78-53 to reach ACC semis". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  18. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-11). "No. 14 Duke races past No. 6 UNC 93-83 in ACC semifinals". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  19. ^ Norlander, Matt (2017-03-12). "2017 NCAA Tournament bracket: North Carolina No. 1 seed in South Region". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  20. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-17). "Justin Jackson's 21 points lead top-seeded UNC past Texas Southern 103-64". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  21. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-19). "North Carolina survives a scare against Arkansas, advances to face Butler in the Sweet 16". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  22. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-25). "Tar Heels beat Butler to reach Elite Eight for 26th time". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2017-08-07.
  23. ^ Associated Press (2017-03-26). "Maye hits late jumper to lift North Carolina to Final Four". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2017-09-18.
  24. ^ Allen, Scott (2017-03-27). "'The Shot' lives: Christian Laettner ribs Kentucky fans after Luke Maye's game-winner". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  25. ^ Christian Laettner (2017-03-27). "Luke my son...May the force of the #32 be with you. #uncdownsthecats #theshotlives". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  26. ^ "2016–17 Gonzaga Bulldogs Roster and Stats". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on March 12, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  27. ^ "Roster", 2016-17 Gonzaga Men's Basketball Record Book (PDF), Spokane, WA: Gonzaga Sports Information, 2016, p. 3, archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2018
  28. ^ "2016–17 North Carolina Tar Heels Roster and Stats". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on June 16, 2018. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  29. ^ Matt Bowers, ed. (2016), "2016-17 Season", Carolina 2016-17 Tar Heel Basketball (PDF), Chapel Hill, North Carolina: UNC Athletic Communications office, p. 6, archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2018
  30. ^ "March Madness: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Casey Stern and Debbie Antonelli highlight March Madness Commentator Teams". NCAA. 2017-03-02. Archived from the original on 2017-10-26.
  31. ^ Rodriguez, Ashley (2017-03-15). "How to watch March Madness 2017—with or without cable". Quartz (publication). Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  32. ^ Richard Deitsch (2017-03-12). "Media Circus: Breaking down CBS and Turner's March Madness broadcast package". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  33. ^ Paine, Neil (2017-04-04). "UNC Played Ugly Enough To Win". FiveThirtyEight. Archived from the original on 2017-06-22.
  34. ^ "Gonzaga vs. North Carolina: Box Score". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on 2017-10-07.
  35. ^ Auerbach, Nicole (2016-04-05). "Villanova clips North Carolina on buzzer-beater for national championship". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2017-09-18.
  36. ^ Rutherford, Mike (2017-04-04). "North Carolina finds redemption in an imperfect championship game". SB Nation. Archived from the original on 2017-09-18.
  37. ^ Tracy, Marc (2017-04-04). "Tar Heels, After Letting One Slip, Hold On Tight This Time". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  38. ^ Medcalf, Myron (2017-04-03). "That was not a good national title game". ESPN. Archived from the original on 2018-01-09.
  39. ^ Chase, Chris (2017-04-04). "The refs ruined the NCAA championship game". Fox Sports. Archived from the original on 2017-08-05.
  40. ^ Ley, Tom (April 4, 2017). "The Referees Didn't Want You To Have Any Fun Last Night". Deadspin. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017.
  41. ^ a b c Kaduk, Kevin (2017-04-04). "Everyone thought the NCAA title game refs were bad, even LeBron". Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.
  42. ^ Wertz Jr., Langston (2017-04-03). "Social media reacts to North Carolina's national championship win over Gonzaga". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on 2018-05-18.