Tar Heels get it right this time, bring home the title

No, BYU hasn't even made it to a Final Four. but neither had Gonzaga until this year.

THE BLAME GAME Go ahead, Zags fans. To a man determined to remedy the cruelest ill of his coaching career.

Aside from the first-round matchup against the Texas Southern Tigers, the run was hard for UNC, with the Arkansas Razorbacks and Butler Bulldogs providing tough challenges in the second and third rounds, respectively, before the Tar Heels were able to pull away.

But Monday night, they got the win, and with it a blue and white confetti celebration that they narrowly missed out on last season.

"There was a lot of ups and downs - 26 for 73, I don't think you should win any game shooting like that", said junior Justin Jackson. For this team, it never is.

No. 3 seed OR appeared to be a team of destiny after it advanced to the Final Four with a victory over Kansas, but the Ducks forgot how to block out with the game on the line against North Carolina.

UNC had the numbers stacked against them at halftime.

Williams has coached against Smith and he has faced off against former players and assistants such as Jerod Haase and Mark Turgeon.

The Tar Heels simply outlasted the competition to be the last basketball team standing.

The season-long vow was to get back to the title game, and not let it slip away this time.

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"We broke the glass ceiling everybody said we couldn't get over", Mathews said. North Carolina is your very deserving 2017 NCAA men's basketball champion.

UNC junior forward Justin Jackson said Gonzaga was playing good defense on Hicks, but Hicks was just a little better, giving North Carolina the late-game shot it needed to ultimately get redemption after losing the championship game previous year to Villanova, 77-74, on a three pointer at the buzzer by the Wildcats' Kris Jenkins. To say everything went right for them at this Final Four would not be the truth.

The Tar Heels spent the offseason thinking about that pain, never letting it be forgotten. They didn't ride in on some wacky series of upsets; they weren't some mind-blowing March story that just happened to stick around for an extra weekend. "I just - from my angle it didn't look like it was a situation where there was an out-of-bounds situation or I else I would have called for a review". "They came into the game as a good team with taking care of the ball". Sure, North Carolina won its title - that's No. 6, for those counting, and third since 2005 - with a 71-65 victory against Gonzaga. That rejection quickly lead to a dunk at the other end by Justin Jackson that gave the Tar Heels a five-point lead and ended the game. Replays and pictures, retweeted and reposted thousands of times on social media, showed Meeks' right hand touching out of bounds.

"I felt like Joel was due for something big", Hicks said.

"We threw the ball into the post and I didn't deliver", Karnowski said after the game.

Finally, the feeling was tangible.

Gonzaga's Johnathan Williams (3) and Killian Tillie (33) block a shot by North Carolina's Joel Berry II (2) during the second half in the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. Kentucky had led it by five with five minutes left. But it was over. "I think this group was tough enough".

It wasn't allowed to breathe and live and create such shining moments.

"Everybody still had faith in me", Hicks said. Karnowski had 13 points and five rebounds in the Bulldogs' win over SC on Saturday, while Meeks had 25 points and 14 rebounds in the Tar Heels' win over OR in the other semifinal. Now North Carolina and Williams stand at the pinnacle of college basketball.

This title doesn't erase any of that. The Tar Heels finally knew they were going to take home the trophy that eluded them past year. The program has fallen off the map since, qualifying for the NCAA tournament only in 2008 and 2011 and going out with double-digit defeats in the first round each time.

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