Redemption: Late run lifts North Carolina to NCAA title

The officiating in Monday's night's NCAA championship game was a "disgrace", WFAN's Mike Francesa said.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip).

North Carolina still couldn't deliver a decisive run, and it was a one-possession game for much of the second half, when foul trouble dogged both teams.

On Tuesday, the NCAA released ratings for the 2017 national championship game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Gonzaga Bulldogs.

But most of the team that finished 37-2 is expected to return and is nearly certain to have enough talent to earn a 20th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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"Last year when we made our run, I was watching the Snapchats and the Instagram posts", senior point guard Nate Britt said. North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks places his right hand outside of the line as Meeks and Gonzaga's Silas Melson (0) battle for a loose ball during the second half in the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournam. In school history, the Bulldogs are 0-8 against number one seeds in the tournament.

When Monday night's slugfest with Gonzaga came to a merciful end, the Heels had all their answers: The national title was theirs, the nets were hanging around their necks, the redemption tour was a success.

The Zags reached the Final Four for the first time this season, ending more than a decade of you're-overrated criticism. Now their biggest unrealized goal is a national title.

Somehow, they kept North Carolina within reach, reeling in the Tar Heels for a 65-63 lead with 1:53 left. I know how you feel. And without his epic 25 points and 14 rebounds Saturday against OR, the Tar Heels might have been watching Monday's game on TV.

Zach Collins, a 7-foot freshman, backs up Karnowski and he had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks against SC in the national semifinal. And I think to be so close for us is a temporarily crushing blow right now.

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But that is not really the true measure of Karnowski's impact on the program.

Jackson and Joel Berry, the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, were also asked to speak, and both repeated the same sentiment. The Bulldogs allow teams to shoot just 36.5 percent, 29.5 percent from 3-point range. After the jam, the Zags was able to get the ball back but only led to them committing another turnover which led to them fouling and UNC sealing the deal with free throws being made.

A big question is whether Collins will return for his sophomore year. He is averaging a career-high 9.4 rebounds this season.

After Meeks was the first player with 25 points and 10 rebounds in a Final Four game since Greg Oden (2007) in UNC's matchup against Oregon, Meeks scored a subpar 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field, but pulled down 10 rebounds to set a new single-tournament record on the glass with 69 over the course of six games.

"When Kennedy blocked that shot and I grabbed the ball and threw it to Justin, I immediately nearly started crying", Berry said.

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