North Carolina: Soul Survivors

No one really saw Young Jeezy coming. When he first came out, he was known as Lil J back in 2001. His album Thuggin' Under the Influence was one that many did not even know existed. But four years later, he would definitely make a bigger impact. In 2005 and after a name change to Young Jeezy, he would release Thug Motivation 101. With songs like "And Then What" and "Go Crazy", the album went platinum and put Jeezy on the map. But undoubtedly one of the biggest songs on the album was "Soul Survivor". The second single off the album, which featured Akon, would climb as high as number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2005 and would help boost the career of Young Jeezy to a new level. On Monday night, North Carolina had the soul, heart and passion to survive a tough contest in the National Championship game. The Tar Heels pulled out a tough one, winning 71-65, and avenged their National Championship loss last season to the Villanova Wildcats. While the Tar Heels were able to pull this one out, it was definitely one that had a completely different feel than the National Title game last season and not in a good way.

The National Title game last season had amazing shots, gritty play and an ending that had you on the end of your seat. Unfortunately for this game, it was missing the amazing shots. North Carolina, which is usually a good-shooting team, could not find the basket from three-point range. The Tar Heels went 4/27 from the three-point line. If it was not for Joel Berry II going 4/13 from the three-point line, then North Carolina would have hit one at all. Of course this was not one of Roy Williams' best shooting teams, but that type of shooting efficiency from deep makes it hard to watch the game. Combine that type of shooting with an overall field goal percentage of 35.6% for North Carolina and you can see why some wondered if the Tar Heels could do enough to win this one. North Carolina also didn't help themselves with some of the shots they were shooting.  For example, Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson took one shot where he was catching the basketball off balance, never gathered himself and just heaved up a contested three-pointer from deep. Jackson was not the only one taking some horrible shots, but he was the most memorable one, as he went 6/19 in what could be his last game as a North Carolina Tar Heel.  But the Tar Heels were not the only ones that shot badly. It seemed like the Bulldogs were having some problems scoring from point-blank range all game, especially senior big man Przemek Karnowski. The senior, playing in his last game, went 1-8 despite having all his shots right at the rim. Also, down the stretch of the game, it seemed like no one else could score the basketball or make a play for Gonzaga except for Nigel Williams-Goss. The Bulldogs had playmakers shooting the ball well all season. But just like North Carolina, they had some bad shot-takers like Josh Perkins in the second half and that helped lead to their demise.

But along with the bad shots that were taken by both teams, there just seemed to be no consistent rhythm in the game. In the first half, the game was physical and the referees were letting the teams play. Of course, people were still missing shots, but there was a pace that was set to the game at that time. But in the second half of the game, there was just no rhythm at all. Both teams were playing the same way that they played in the first half, but the difference was the referees were tight on the whistle. Foul after foul after foul was called and that took both teams out of any kind of pace they had. You could hear the fans starting to get restless with the start-then-stop pace that was being created. Much like those that were there at the game, there were people probably people watching at home wondering what was goin on. Well, it was simple. The players never adjusted to the way the referees called the game and the referees inexplicably changed their style of calling the game. I have never been one to call out referees at all, but that inconsistent refereeing got Zach Collins fouled out in less minutes than he usually plays for Gonzaga along with having Karnoski of Gonzaga and Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks in foul trouble. The missed shots were not the referees' faults, but they did help contribute to the lack of consistency in the game.

North Carolina won the game but it was definitely not the prettiest of contests. Not very many shots were hit, 44 fouls were called and both teams just seemed to make some silly decisions. But whether it was pretty or not, North Carolina survived and brought back to Chapel Hill another national title in basketball. They may have the title going home with them, but it feels like they survived more than won the game and the fans that watched it survived a badly played game right along with them.

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