Last year, I regretted not writing about the championship game while it was going on. With that in mind, I decided last night to live blog the North Carolina-Gonzaga game this year. I am intrigued by the match up and predicted that the Zags would win on RotoWire. I don’t have a strong feeling about that prediction and it may have been more of a hope than an actual prognostication. In other words, don’t bet on my hunch. Like I did on Saturday, I’ll check in at every TV timeout and keep things rolling until we find out who is the 2016-17 champion.
[Pre-Game Rant] I guess if I wanted to join the college basketball community, I could just go to Twitter and have a two-screen experience. For whatever reason, I don’t want to part of that community (or maybe any). There is a bit too much “sweet pass, dude” in those comments. I am not doing much more than that, but I figure I can use complete sentences here. I am, after all, a snob. That said, I am looking forward to the game and am curious to see how it plays out. I guess I’ll keep Twitter open (@PerryMissner) in case anyone wants to interact with me. If not, I’ll be sitting alone with my computer and shouting, “Defense! Defense!”
[16:00 Minute Timeout] So the injury updates are that everyone is ok. Joel Berry’s ankle is ok. Przemek Karnowski’s eye is ok. Nigel Williams-Goss’s ankle is ok, but his blistered hand could be a concern. Not much information from the coaches – go figure. 538 has the Bulldogs as a 62% favorite. I don’t put much stock into their pregame prediction. I think North Carolina is the clear favorite. The Tar Heel perimeter defenders are going to be a problem. The Tar Heels aren’t getting easy opportunities either. Collins gets swallowed up the post. Karnowski is not really a power player for someone so big. He prefers finesse moves. Still feeling things out and not much learned in the first four minutes.
[12:00 Minute Timeout] Big basket from Jordan Mathews: 3-pointer with the foul. Misses the free throw. Gonzaga goes to bench early. The Gonzaga defense is very strong. Jackson with a floater – really sweet. Sweet pass, dude! Collins is really Gonzaga’s only rim protector. Gonzaga is hitting all of their 3-pointers. That probably won’t last. Then Karnowski blocks a shot. Coach Mark Few pronounced it Nigel rather Ni-Jell, like Raftery. Gonzaga is up five points and is now a 76% favorite. Both teams have gone to the bench early and there has not been a standout performer other than Williams-Goss. I won’t judge based on the first eight minutes.
[8:00 Minute Timeout] I was doing some research the other day on finals and there hasn’t been a championship game decided by more than eight points since 2011 when Butler couldn’t make anything and only lost by 12. I don’t expect either team to run away with this game. North Carolina had a great switch on defense. I like to watch defenses that work together. Joel Berry breaks the defense with a 3-pointer and a possibility with one more. Meeks did most of his damage on offensive rebounds against Oregon. I don’t think that will happen against Gonzaga. Jackson is a problem match up as long as he doesn’t settle for moving 3-pointers. Gonzaga down to 68%.
[4:00 Minute Timeout] I don’t know how the refs see who touched the ball last. They usually get it right, too. We’re seeing a lot of hook shots. It’s kind of nice to see. Gonzaga looks a bit smoother in the halfcourt, but not by much. And that’s why they are leaving Johnathan Williams open from the perimeter. He was 15-of-37 (40.5%) on 3-pointers, but has missed two in this game. It looks like this game will be played in the 60s, which is to Gonzaga’s advantage. Josh Perkins is the hot shooter for the Zags. Gonzaga up to 80%. This game seems to be flowing along – not too many fouls.
[Halftime] Push and relax is the antidote according to Hill and Raftery. I don’t think that makes any sense. Bradley looks afraid to shoot. North Carolina could go small to provide a different look. Williams guarding Meeks now. He is a versatile defender. Raftery is just funny enough. He seems to have some lines in the can and uses them to lighten the mood. Karnowski has been relatively lousy. I think he was probably in the minus against South Carolina as well. According to Duke grad Hill, Carolina basketball is missing 3-pointers and getting long rebounds. Eh? The Tar Heels have stemmed the tide. Good look for the Heels. Gonzaga goes to halftime as the 69% favorite – basically, meaningless.
[16:00 Minute Timeout] OK, during halftime, I brushed my teeth and put on my jammies, so as soon as the game ends I can go to sleep to be ready for work tomorrow. I wish I cared about the final result more. I guess I could fake it or put money on one team or the other. Hopefully, the second half will be exciting. The teams are well matched, so I think it will be relatively close. Karnowski and Collins with two fouls apiece – that could be interesting. I hope Nantz lets me know what’s going on with the fouls. Oh boy, Hill talks about UNC’s body language after two possessions. That’s Aikman-like analysis. Tar Heels on a nice run. And Gonzaga answers. What a great timeout! Berry is a defensive liability. I hope Chad Ford updates us on Zach Collins’ draft stock after his foul issues. Gonzaga still a 62% favorite, although the Tar Heels surged into the lead.
[12:00 Minute Timeout] The fourth Gonzaga big, Killian Tillie, comes up big. It’s time for him to get into foul trouble. We are going to see a lot of foul shots. I am going to be up late. Drat. Is it all about me? Perhaps. Excitement index going up with the close game. We are at 5.6. The Zags may have to dig into their bench beyond their usual 8-man rotation. A lot of whistles. Maybe Williams-Goss could get a triple-double. The threes aren’t falling for Gonzaga. They come and they go, at least that is what Peter Wu used to tell me when he hit a nice serve. It’s a 50-50 tossup!
[8:00 Minute Timeout] Jackson should probably stop shooting 3-pointers. Tillie looks like an inexperienced basketball player. Players are bending over and holding their shorts – getting tired! Me too. Stop calling fouls, please. We’re even with 10 minutes remaining. The refs are calling this very tight. Gonzaga is having a Butler-like second half – just 18% from the field. We’re even with nine minutes remaining. Here’s a nightmare scenario for me: overtime. Literally. Berry ran into the mountain – foul on him. Now, slow motion analysis – this is the worst. Adam Morrison looks like Milosz. Tillie is going to get big minutes. They won’t call a foul on Collins. North Carolina is the 58% favorite.
[4:00 Minute Timeout] I think I used all of my advertisement jokes on Saturday. These are all the same ads. Nantz super excited about the foul situation. Any reason to stop play and make this game longer is being taken. I usually don’t complain about refs, but they are going to make me sleepy tomorrow. I am becoming a whiny baby. That’s the first time I’ve heard Raftery say short and have the shot go in. Collins fouls out. Hey hey, goodbye! Back-to-back 3-pointers! Jackson looks as sleepy as I feel. North Carolina is up two and is a 53% favorite.
[Final] I think this is the last time I stay up late to watch basketball. I miss my DVR. It’s odds! Williams has six assists and nine boards. The excitement index is up to 6.8. Let’s have a great finish – no more fouls please! I am going exclamation point crazy. We’re back to odds – we don’t want evens. Extra time isn’t going to make his ankle feel better. Terrible timeout! Actually, I am not sure if timeouts can actually be good or bad. Run the clock – four corners! OK, that’s a really terrible timeout. No more timeouts. Congrats, Tar Heels! This was a pretty good game, but not as good as last year. G’night, everybody!