clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

North Carolina vs. Oregon: Three Things We Learned

The Heels are heading back to the National Championship after their gritty 77-76 win vs. Oregon.

WHAT A WIN FOR North Carolina Tar Heels basketball!!

Nai-post ni Tar Heel Blog noong Linggo, Abril 2, 2017

The Tar Heels ground out a 77-76 win vs. Oregon in the Final Four on Saturday. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win nonetheless. There is a lot that we learned about the Heels from this win:

Kennedy Meeks is a beast

We all knew that he was a good player, but he picked as big of a stage as any to show that he is truly a beast. Meeks had a season-high 25 points, which also tied his career high. In addition to his scoring efficiency, Kennedy added 14 rebounds (with eight offensive rebounds!), including a game-clinching offensive rebound with four seconds left after Berry missed his second free throw. Meeks shot 11 of 13 from the floor, and at one point he had made 11 straight buckets without a miss.

Meeks is averaging 12 ppg and a whopping 11.8 rebounds per game in the tournament, and he has had 11+ rebounds in four straight games. He might be picking just the right time to peak, and let’s hope that he can keep it up on Monday against the Zags.

Free throws are important

The Tar Heels didn’t miss a free throw in the first half, but they missed four in the final seconds that almost gave the game away to Oregon. It was only Pinson’s and Meeks’ offensive rebounding that saved the game for the Heels. However, if they had salted it away at the line, it would have been much healthier on all of our cardiovascular systems. Carolina finished shooting 19-27 from the line, which is a decent 70.4% after eight second half misses.

On the other side, Oregon at one point scored eight straight points from free throw shooting. The Ducks finished going 89% from the line on 25-28 shooting. This +6 margin from the line was what kept Oregon in the game, and UNC needs to work on their free throw shooting before they meet Gonzaga.

This team can win ugly

Last year Carolina breezed through the tournament, winning their first five games by an average of 16.2 ppg before running into Villanova in the championship. This year’s team has had a much tougher road, and this has led to two straight nail-biting finishes against Kentucky and Oregon. However, this win was especially ugly. UNC shot 36.8% from the floor, while Oregon shot slightly better at 37.9%.

Carolina missed four free throws in the last 5.8 seconds, but they still ground it out. This game really showed UNC’s toughness and sheer will to win and get back to the championship game after last year’s heartbreak. UNC has had only two easy wins this tournament, a 39-point win over Texas Southern in the round of 64 and a 12-point win vs. Butler in the Sweet 16. The other three have been tough, gutsy wins. The 72-65 win over Arkansas in the round of 32 was a gutsy win. The 75-73 win vs. Kentucky in the Elite Eight was a gutsy win. The 77-76 win over Oregon might have been the gutsiest of them all, and the Tar Heels are better for it.

UNC will play fellow 1 seed Gonzaga in the national championship game at 9:20 PM on Monday on CBS. Let’s hope they can finish the job versus the Zags and bring home what they’ve fought all season to attain.