12 Lessons We Learned From North Carolina's Win Over Gonzaga

As college basketball season draws to a close, these are the takeaways from last night's horrendous national championship game.

Kennedy Meeks UNC
USA Today Sports

Apr 3, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Kennedy Meeks (3) blocks the shot of Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Zach Collins (32) in the first half in the championship game of the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Kennedy Meeks UNC

North Carolina’s redemption tour officially ended Monday with about 12 seconds on the clock. In a desperate attempt to throw something at the basket, Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss was blocked by Kennedy Meeks. Joel Berry found a streaking Justin Jackson who flushed it home, putting the Tar Heels up five and securing a sixth national championship for one of the sports’ blue bloods.

As for what we learned last night…not a whole hell of a lot considering we watched the worst national championship game since UConn and Butler slogged their way to 94 total points in 2011. That game was legendarily atrocious. And Monday’s wasn’t far behind, considering the teams combined to shoot 34 percent from the field while the referees ruined the second half, blowing their whistles just about every other possession over ticky-tack fouls. It was one college basketball fans collectively would like to forget and instead look toward November when the game returns.


But there were lessons to be learned, or reminded of, as college basketball called it a season. Like never underestimating a team that leads the nation in rebounding, features multiple future pros, and was seemingly hell-bent on redeeming itself after a heartbreaking buzzer beater from Villanova in the 2016 national championship game. We also learned...

The refs are bad at all levels.

NCAA zebras are just as allergic to calling traveling violations as NBA officials.

Michael Jordan knew what he was talking about.

The ceiling isn’t the roof. Or it is. I don’t know. I’m still confused with what the G.O.A.T. said back in March.

College basketball is pretty popular.

Despite an NCAA Tournament that was pretty damn boring and practically bereft of dramatic game winners, the appetite for the greatest postseason in sports is as strong as ever. Everyone you know filled out a bracket, and the TV ratings were through the roof. Or the ceiling.  

The NCAA remains the worst.

The hypocrisy of college athletic's governing body seemingly knows no bounds as the organization proudly touted all its sponsors during every commercial break—they have an official candy, insurance, hamburger, hangout, ladder, pizza, and rental car company—yet steadfastly refuses to pay the athletes who generate its BILLIONS of dollars in revenue.  

Going to class ain't that big of a deal.

More accurately we were reminded that an ongoing academic scandal, allegedly perpetrated over decades, can’t slow down a powerhouse program like North Carolina.

Protect ya neck.

Adam Morrison, the formerly mustached Gonzaga legend, should have used sunscreen.

Don't start the season at the top.

A preseason No. 1 rankings continues to be the kiss of death. Duke was christened the nation’s No. 1 squad back in October when the AP rankings were released, and the Blue Devils were gone before the Sweet 16. A preseason No. 1 team has won the national title just three times in the last 21 years. So good luck with all, Arizona, the presumed No. 1 squad next season.

Enough already, Jim Nantz.

We were again reminded that Jim Nantz’s tradition of gifting a player his tie after the national championship game is the worst in all of sports. Many are still waiting word this morning on who the Vineyard Vines–sponsored CBS broadcaster bestowed his neck garnish upon. Here’s hoping whoever received it promptly threw it in the garbage. 

Free Raftery.

Bill Raftery’s exquisite color commentary skills are comically wasted working with Nantz and Grant Hill, who play it more conservatively than Macklemore on the mic. Every drinking reference the great Raftery makes falls on deaf ears. We sorely miss Raft, Jay Bilas, and Sean McDonough ripping each other to shreds—all in good fun—on ESPN’s Big Monday broadcasts.

How do you leave out the choke?

This year’s “One Shining Moment” was complete trash since it didn’t feature New Orleans’ Travin Thibodeaux choking teammate Christavious Gill during one of the First Four games.

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Yeah, we know college basketball isn't as good as the NBA.

And finally we were reminded for the umpteenth time that NBA basketball—from a skills, talent, and execution perspective—is far superior to the college game. We just ask that you try to appreciate the college game for what it’s worth when you’re watching.

So adios, college basketball. You didn’t leave us wanting more, but we’ll miss you. Now it’s time for the Association to return to center stage.

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