Championship Game Recap
(1) North Carolina 75 - (1) Illinois 70
Well so much for the conventional wisdom that big games do not live up to the hype. It started out as a North Carolina blowout and almost ended as another great Illinois comeback. Funny thing happened along the way, Steve Bartman stole a Luther Head pass with about a minute remaining to curse the Illini. OK maybe not, but you have to feel for Chicago sports fans. They have glory within their reach, ready to celebrate another great comeback and win a national title (heck win any title) and then it all slips away.
Well, enough with that, what happened in the game?
First things first, refereeing. Illini fans want me to say the refs were terrible, North Carolina fans don't want to hear anything of the sort. I do not believe the refs caused the Illini loss, I do believe Augustine pissed somebody off to get the treatment he did by the refs. That was not a difference maker in the game though.
Here is a question for you? How do you know when your team is taking way too many 3's? When you have a 3 on 1, Dee Brown driving and all you get off is a crummy 3 point shot. That play symbolizes why the Illini lost. They could not, no would not go inside. They had plenty of opportunities and had good success in the 2nd half when they went inside, they just pulled up their drives way too often. The guards were too afraid of blocked shots.
North Carolina on the other hand had great success on the inside, but did not pound the middle in the second half for some reason. That allowed the Illini to catch up and almost win.
If I would have told you before the game the Illini would have 8 more offensive rebounds than the Tar Heels, would you have thought that North Carolina would win? If I told you that the Illini would only shoot 38% would you have believed that the Illini would even be close?
The difference maker was turnovers. This is why I thought Carolina would lose, but guess what the Tar Heels only turned the ball over 10 times. That is why Carolina won. The Illini had 2 big runs, the first was in the beginning of the game which was fueled by turnovers, the second was around the midway point in the second half which was fueled by turnovers (and great 3 shooting). There were not enough turnovers to sink Carolina.
Give Carolina credit, they took it to the Illini early and never let them get ahead. They made the shots when they needed to and had the defense at the end of the game to shut down the Illini.