One Shining Monday

By on April 4, 2016
North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson (44) dunks against the Syracuse Orange in the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men's Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. (photo Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY Sports)

North Carolina Tar Heels forward Justin Jackson (44) dunks against the Syracuse Orange in the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship semi-final game at NRG Stadium. (photo Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY Sports)

Tonight is the night. Three weeks and 66 teams later we are down to the final two teams. The Villanova Wildcats and the University of North Carolina Tarheels will battle it out for the 2016 NCAA National Championship.

Both teams made relative easy work of their final four opponents as Villanova defeated the Oklahoma Sooners by 44 points (95-51) and UNC defeated the Syracuse Orange by 17 points (83-66).

Roy Williams will be looking to be just the seventh coach to win three National Championships, joining the likes of John Wooden, Adolph Rupp and Bobby Knight. A win and the Tarheels would have their sixth national Championship. Jay Wright, on the other hand, is competing in his first National Championship. After underachieving in their previous NCAA tournament appearances under Wright, the Wildcats are on the verge of winning their second National Championship and first since 1985.

Villanova comes into the Championship as a team getting hot at the right moment. Led by Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono, the Wildcats are shooting 58.2 percent from the field, including an eye-popping 48.9 percent from three-point range. Four players for the Wildcats have scored in double figures each game, combining for 61 of the teams 77.5 points per game in the tournament. Defensively, the Wildcats are limiting their opponents to 0.82 points per possession.

UNC on the other hand has a very physical inside presence. Led by Bruce Johnson and Kennedy Meeks, the Tarheels have worn opponents down en route to double digit victories in each of their five tournament games. In their semifinal matchup against Syracuse, UNC scored 50 of their 83 points inside the paint. During the tournament, the Tarheels are out rebounding opponents by 10.8 rebounds per game.

Each team has their flaws.

For Villanova, it is rebounding. Entering the tournament, the Wildcats were ranked 209th in the nation in offensive rebound percentage. Against the Sooners on Saturday, the Wildcats allowed 19 offensive rebounds.

UNC entered the tournament as the worst shooting three-point team in Division 1, having shot a paltry 31.9 percent from beyond the arc this season. Against the Orange on Saturday, the Tarheels were 4-of-17 on three-point attempts, missing their first 12 attempts.

In order for Villanova to win, they must force the Tarheels beyond the arc and limit their second chances. 6’11’’ Center Daniel Ochefu will need to fight for every rebound and hope for the continued hot hands of Josh Hart and Ryan Arcidiacono.

In the end, the size and the inside presence of the Tarheels will be too much for the smaller four guard front of the Wildcats.

UNC wins its sixth National Championship, 79-69.

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