Twenty-three days have passed since Selection Sunday. We’ve seen hearts and records broken, we’ve seen buzzer beaters, and we’ve seen 2,645 minutes of basketball whittle a pool of 68 teams down to just two: Gonzaga and North Carolina.
At the day’s end, there will be just one left standing, but there's plenty to catch up on before then. Let’s get into it.
Watch the national championship game:
Previewing the title bout
There’s been some talk going around Phoenix lately of a championship game version of David and Goliath. Pssshhh. If you believe that only one of these teams is a powerhouse, then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.
Tonight’s matchup will be unstoppable force vs. unstoppable force. We saw that Saturday night. But that wasn’t the only thing that stood out. Here’s what we can take from both semifinal matchups heading into the championship game.
There’s more than just general being-greatness that the last two teams standing have in common. And plenty they don’t. Here’s a breakdown of the similarities and differences of the title contenders.
The redemption tour has reached its final stop
UNC started out this season with one thing on its mind: Getting back to the national championship.
Theo Pinson kept a photo of himself sitting alone in the locker room after last year’s loss — a towel draped over his head — as his phone screensaver. Joel Berry still remembers the feeling of confetti falling for the other team. Roy Williams will never rewatch those final seconds.
Now, a year after the most bitter of endings, that second chance is finally here.
NCAA.com’s Mike Lopresti talked to the Tar Heels about all they’ve ever wanted since Tuesday, April 5, 2016: Redemption, and he also recaps how UNC snuck past the Ducks to get back to the title game.
Elsewhere, Frank Mason III wins the Naismith Trophy
Kansas may have bowed out of the tournament in the Elite Eight, but the Jayhawks are still bringing home hardware. This time, it was Frank Mason III, who won the Naismith Trophy Sunday.
The senior guard joins Danny Manning (1988) as the only two Naismith Trophy recipients from Kansas, and becomes the sixth Big 12 recipient, following a pair each from Oklahoma (Buddy Hield, 2016; Blake Griffin, 2009) and Texas (Kevin Durant, 2007; T.J. Ford, 2003).