Carolina Wins Title -- But This One Was Tough to Watch

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT WRAPUP – ANATOMY OF NORTH CAROLINA’S MESSY (AND FOUL-FILLED) CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WIN AGAINST GONZAGA …

PLUS NBA & MLB NEWS/NOTES

Don’t care who you were rooting for – or even who you possibly wagered on – but that was no way to cap a fun 2016-17 college basketball season.

Agree?

North Carolina’s messy/sloppy/clunky 71-65 win/cover against 1.5-point underdog Gonzaga in Monday’s NCAA Tournament Championship Game was downright unwatchable for most of the evening as game officials Mike Eades, Verne Harris and Michael Stephens etched their names infamously into the books as having called a brutal game with 27 second-half foul calls and some 52 free throws in the course of the tilt.

Our major complaint was that with two teams that sported major size – a trio of seven-footers on the Gonzaga side and lots of height/heft on the North Carolina front line – every imaginable “touch foul” was called and that bogged down the game’s flow and didn’t allow for any real rhythm.

So, what we all received was a stop-and-start contest with a controversial finish considering that a late-game jump-ball situation – with the possession arrow in favor of the UNC Tar Heels – instead should have been ruled ball out-of-bounds off North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks who had his hand on the baseline will touching the ball.

Ooops!

In essence, the foul woes that piled up on Gonzaga’s big guys – especially star freshman Zach Collins (9 points and 7 rebounds in only 14 minutes of play) hurt Mark Few’s squad more than the foul troubles that plagued Roy Williams’ Carolina kids and the fact that Zags big man Przemek Karnowski (just 9 points on 1-of-8 FGs) played tentative (maybe scared?) hurt the Bulldogs big-time.

On the flip side, Carolina didn’t exactly get a star-studded showing from ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson who needed 19 field-goal tries to score 16 points and even Most Outstanding Player PG Joel Berry II (22 points but 4-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc) was a tad spotty and took some ill-timed jumpers from deep. But when push came to shove late it was Jackson’s conventional three-point play with 1:40 left and a slam-bang Jackson dunk to ice things that brought down the confetti on North Carolina’s sixth NCAA Championship Game win … one that many folks would like soon to forget.

Here’s a final look at North Carolina’s NCAA Tournament road to a title:

DATE          OPP                          SPREAD      SCORE

3-17            Texas Southern            - 26.5   103-64

3-19            Arkansas                        - 11.5   72-65

3-24            Butler                              - 7         92-80

3-26            Kentucky                        - 2         75-73

4-1               Oregon                           - 4.5      77-76

4-3                       Gonzaga                                        - 1.5           71-65

Now hear this …

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers/Bloggers have put a capper on the College Basketball Season and the NCAA Tournament and now it’s time to cash in big with the NBA and Major-League Baseball.

Just go online here at www.jimhurley.com or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and we’ll send you straight into the winner’s circle.

NBA NOTES

Let’s be honest … there hasn’t been to this point all that much drama when it comes to settling NBA playoff berths but these final 10-or-so days of the regular season could be uber-exciting.

There’s the Boston vs. Cleveland battle for the numero uno seed in the East and a handful of teams are fighting it out for the final couple of Eastern Conference spots – no, a .500 record is not even a prerequisite.

But make no mistake, this is Golden State’s championship to win or lose – the Warriors entered Tuesday’s home game against Minnesota on an 11-game winning streak and feeling a bit heady following that bully-like 139-115 win against Washington a couple of nights ago.

Now, with Kevin Durant said to be ready to go come Saturday, the Warriors (63-14) are hot to trot and the odds-on choice and we’re not even sure any other opponent can push ‘em to a full seven-game limit in the final couple of post-season rounds.

MLB NOTES

If you happen to be one of the folks “buying in” to the notion that bullpens will be more important than ever before here in 2017, then maybe you’re a bit skittish as an Atlanta Braves fan.

Sure, nobody’s expecting all that much from the Braves who entered the ’17 season with an over/under wins total of 75 “W’s” but consider that the combo of relievers Ian Krol, Chaz Roe and Eric O’Flaherty surrendered six earned runs and five walks in two-thirds of an inning in Atlanta’s Opening Day 6-0 loss to the host New York Mets.

Now, consider that two of Atlanta’s starters this year are fossils RHP Bartolo Colon and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and neither one of those guys figure to be around much past the sixth inning of games – so will this Braves’ bullpen sabotage the season sooner rather than later or will GM John Hart realize some fresh arms must be brought on board?

Other bullpens/teams that blew Opening Day games included the San Francisco Giants, the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers.

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Aug

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