March Madness 2017 Final Four and Championship Recap

The 2017 Final Four is in the books. Truth be told, it was one of the most disappointing Final Fours that I’ve ever witnessed. I can honestly say that I didn’t see a single player during the Final Four that should have an impact as an NBA player.

March Madness 2017 Championship Recap

Maybe, I feel this way because of that terrible final that happened on Monday night. I mean, how bad was that? See below for a recap of this year’s Final Four, heading into our March Madness 2017 Championship recap.

Final Four Semifinal Games

Gonzaga 77, South Carolina 73

I thought Gonzaga’s defense was going to have trouble stopping the great Sindarius Thornwell. I was wrong. Thornwell was awful in a 73 to 77 Gonzaga loss. Gonzaga was up by 14 at one point before the Gamecocks stormed back to take the lead in the second half. But, then, Gonzaga showed up big again.

They locked down on the Gamecocks to get the win. The Zags’ defense was terrific in this game as it held South Carolina to 25 of 66 from the field and 7 of 20 from the three-point line. The Gamecocks shot 37.9% from the field. They shot 35% from three.

That was a stark contrast to Gonzaga. The Zags blistered South Carolina with 48.3% shooting from the field. Gonzaga was good on 29 of 60 shots from the field. The Zags shot 47.4% from three.

Gonzaga All-American Nigel Williams-Goss was brilliant versus the tough South Carolina defense. He went 9 of 16 from the field and 2 of 5 from three. Williams-Goss scored 23 points. Big man off the bench Zach Collins recorded a double-double with 13 rebounds and 14 points.

North Carolina 77, Oregon 76

The second Final Four Semifinal game saw another big-time star underperform. Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, the Pac 12 Player of the Year, went 2 of 11 from the field. He didn’t hit a three-point shot going 0 and 3.

Oregon’s other star, Tyler Dorsey, didn’t play much better. Dorsey went 3 of 11 from the field. Dorsey did hit 3 of 7 three-point shots. He also hit all 12 of his free throws. But, Dorsey, like the rest of the Ducks, weren’t good enough to get past North Carolina.

As a team, Oregon shot 37.9% from the field. The Ducks outshot the Tar Heels who were good for only 36.8% from the field. The Ducks were terrible from three. They shot 26.9% from three while North Carolina shot a much better 38% from three.

Tar Heels’ big Kennedy Meeks dominated the Ducks inside. Jordan Bell did the best job that he could. He hurt himself early, but still managed 16 boards and 13 points. The problem is that he couldn’t, nobody could, stop Meeks. Meeks went off for 25 points and 14 rebounds.

National Championship

North Carolina 71, Gonzaga 65

The 2017 Final Four Championship had to be the tightest game ever called in the history of the NCAA Tournament. How else to explain the low-score and horrible play? Both teams looked like garbage for most of this year’s College Basketball National Championship.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs shot 33.9% from the field. They shot around 18% from the field in the second half. It’s not like the Zags didn’t put up shots. Gonzaga put up a lot of shots. The Zags shot 59 times from the field. They made only 20.

How bad was it? Zags’ center Prezemek Karnowski shot 8 times. He made only 1 shot. The shot he made was on a break away. He had 4 turnovers. He committed 4 fouls. Nigel Williams-Goss went 5 of 17 from the field and 1 of 3 from three. But, that wasn’t the worst thing about Williams-Goss’s night. He went to the charity strike 8 times. He hit 4 free throws.

North Carolina almost won this game by default. They certainly didn’t win it because they played better than Gonzaga. Sure, the Tar Heels made 6 more shots than Gonzaga did from the field, but the Heels shot 35.6% from the field. They made only 4 of 27 three-point shots. That’s 14.8% from three.

What’s worse is that North Carolina shot a horrible 57.7% from the free throw line. The Heels went 15 out of 26 from the charity strike. Both teams were so bad from the free throw line that CBS’s broadcast team started making excuses. I heard a lot of “they must be tired” statements coming from my television.

The teams don’t get all blame for providing one of the worst basketball games that I’ve ever seen. The referee crew didn’t allow either team to get into a rhythm. They kept stopping the game to check the monitors. For what? I have no clue. They also called a lot of fouls. Both teams garnered 22 fouls a piece. That’s too many fouls.

At the end, the basketball bounced North Carolina’s way. So, yes, the Tar Heels are NCAA Champions. I think both teams should do it over with an entirely different referee crew.

Final Four Awards

Worst Performance by a Star – Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina
Thornwell was unstoppable in the NCAA Tournament…until he wasn’t. He scored only 15 points versus Gonzaga in the Gamecocks Elite Eight loss. 15 points. That’s not enough for South Carolina to beat anybody, much less a good team like the Zags.

Thornwell made only 4 of 12 shots from the field. He was held to 2 of 6 from the three-point line. What’s really disheartening is that Thornwell shot only 6 free throws. What it means is that he took way too many jump shots instead of driving to the basket.

Best Performance by a Star – Joel Berry II, National Championship
In a game that the refs sucked the life out of, Joel Berry II tried his best to take charge. He had moments of greatness. He hit a big three in the second half. He led the Heels in assists with 6. He played great man-to-man defense, and he helped on Gonzaga’s bigs.

Sure, he went 4 of 13 from three and 4 of 8 from the free throw line. But, Joel Berry III also hit 7 of 19 shots from the field. More importantly, he knew early on that North Carolina star Justin Jackson was having an off night. That’s why he took over as NC’s top scorer.

“NCAA is Trying to Ruin the Final Four” Moment

Almost the entire second half of the National Championship Game was a mess. If a referee wasn’t calling a foul, he was running to the monitors to huddle with the other referees to figure out if he made the right call.

44 total fouls? Most all called in the second half? Most called against big men from both teams? Kennedy Meeks didn’t get a chance to have his match up with Przemek Karnowski because the refs decided to put both guys into foul trouble in the second half of the game.

Nigel Williams-Goss never got into a rhythm. Justin Jackson never got into a rhythm. That’s two All-American players that the freaking refs kept from showing their best.

The NCAA needs to correct this. First, the NCAA should stop calling ticky-tack fouls. Let big guys show their stuff. If you can’t move the guy off the block, that’s a you problem. Second, get rid of replay. Replay in every sport is ridiculous. It slows the game down. As my brother, Eddie, said, it made the game unwatchable.

Congratulations to North Carolina. But, the NCAA ruined what should have been a mammoth battle between the two best teams in the nation.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson

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