North Carolina Tar Heels by the numbers

Congratulations to the 2017 NCAA champions!

Congratulations to North Carolina, the 2017 men’s Division I basketball champions!

Surely you’ve been hearing plenty about the Tar Heels during their tournament run, but here we’ve gathered some good, hard numbers to share with you.

21,750 seats in the Dean Smith Center, where the Tar Heels play their home games.

100 games Roy Williams has coached that took place during an NCAA tournament.

20 Final Four appearances, which is the most of any school in the NCAA.

13 championships won by North Carolina schools: UNC, Duke, and NC State.

8 years since UNC’s last title win in 2009, against Michigan State, 89-72.

6 tournament wins for UNC total.

5 tournament wins by Duke (suck it.)

3 Rameses mascots that appear at UNC events.

1 year since a heartbreaking loss to Villanova in the final game.

The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.

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It’s been 30 years since ‘One Shining Moment’ first aired. Let’s appreciate it.

The song is the greatest college basketball tradition.

There’s one thing I’ll never forget about the 2014 Final Four. After the confetti rained and the nets got cut, UConn’s entire team gathered in a corner of the court to crane their necks up at the giant screen at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. They were watching this:

That montage is set to the song “One Shining Moment, and it’s how every college basketball season has closed since 1987.

The NCAA tournament is one of the most unique events on the American sports calendar. It features three weeks of high drama, passion, and twists and turns. In just over three minutes, CBS producers pack in a synopsis of March Madness, and cap it off with a tribute to that season’s national champion.

The first one aired in 1987.

The song was created by a composer named David Barrett, who said he knew he had college basketball’s anthem as soon as he wrote it in the fall of 1986. But it was almost a different sport’s soundtrack. Barrett said CBS had designs on debuting “One Shining Moment” after Super Bowl 21, but it didn’t make air that night.

Instead it was used after Indiana won the national title a few months later.

And after North Carolina won the national championship game over Gonzaga, we made our own version to commemorate the achievement.

There’s a pretty common beat to the montage.

It lends a familiarity to things as well. The video usually starts with cheerleaders, mascots, and fans to show the pageantry of the tournament in the opening refrain, before getting to the players and moments themselves. There are always dunks and buzzer-beaters and whatever noteworthy clip went viral during the tournament (think something like a player dancing).

It builds to the end where moments from the Final Four are featured, typically with a clip of CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz setting the scene before the semifinals, and then whatever it is he said when the buzzer sounded and the champion is crowned.

Throughout the years, the song has changed as has the singer.

When you watch One Shining Moments throughout the 1990s, you’ll notice that they’re about 40 seconds shorter than the current version. It’s because CBS was using an abridged version of the song. In 2000, the fuller version of the song debuted on the telecast and the network hasn’t looked back.

From 1987-1993, Barrett sung the montage before R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass took over from 1994-1999.

Barrett returned to voice the montage from 2000-2003. But in 2003, the only man truly fit to sing the song took up the mantel. Luther Vandross’s velvety smooth voice graced our televisions that year and we’re all much better for it (pay no mind to the 2010 version with Jennifer Hudson, it never happened as far as I’m concerned).

On an alternate feed of the 2016 championship game, a “One Shining Moment” tailored to Villanova sung by Ne-Yo aired as well. Charles Barkley voiced a version to promo TBS’s airing of the national championship for the first time, but parental discretion is advised before viewing.

Vandross’s version remains the most indelible because it’s the best. No matter what the powers that be do to change things up, his version reigns supreme. It’s the one whoever wins the title tonight will gather at one end of the court — together — to watch as champions.

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The referees are ruining the second half of Gonzaga-North Carolina

This has been brutal to watch.

The officials at the NCAA tournament’s national title game between North Carolina and Gonzaga have been under heavy criticism all Monday night. There have been more than 40 fouls called as of this moment late in the second half, and people are angry.

Foul trouble has marred the second half of the title game. In the final 10 minutes, Gonzaga had three big men playing with four fouls. (In the college game, five is a disqualification.) Przemek Karnowski, Zach Collins, and Johnathan Williams all had to tread carefully for a long time on the Gonzaga side. North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks picked up a dubious fourth foul with 9:42 left on the clock, too.

This cut pretty deeply into the quality of the game. Both the Heels and Zags are built from the inside out, and the heavy accumulation of fouls — several of which looked soft on replay — made their interior stars lethargic. If you’re worried about a foul-out with seven or eight minutes left, you can’t be as aggressive as you’d prefer. The quality of play can’t be as high as it otherwise could be. It made the game worse.

The fifth foul on Collins, who’d been Gonzaga’s most effective big man, came with 5:03 left to play. He was whistled as he jockeyed with Meeks. Collins probably should have been more careful, but this wasn’t a clear foul.

His fourth was dubious, too.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were among the many people on Twitter who grew upset with the liberal officiating.

There have also been outright missed calls that aren’t really a matter of interpretation. After Gonzaga’s Jordan Mathews cleanly air-balled a three-pointer late in the second half, officials awarded the Zags possession. The ball had gone out of bounds, and the referees ruled the Heels had deflected it. But clearly, they didn’t.

Poor officiating is a part of sports sometimes. Human error can’t be entirely worked out of college basketball, but you don’t like to see it in the biggest moments of the year.

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Gonzaga vs. North Carolina, 2017 NCAA basketball championship final score: Tar Heels claim 6th title

The Heels and Bulldogs treated us to an incredible title game. UNC prevailed in the end.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are college basketball’s national champions. They beat Gonzaga in a thrilling title game on Monday, 71-65, in Glendale, Ariz. It’s the sixth title in the history of the program. The game was tight until the last few seconds.

North Carolina, leading by three in the final seconds, forced a stop against Gonzaga and set up a breakaway dunk by star small forward Justin Jackson. That gave the Heels a five-point lead in the final 10 seconds, effectively sealing the game.

Gonzaga led by as many as seven points during the first half, but the teams traded enough baskets that the Bulldogs went into the break with a three-point edge. North Carolina only shot 31 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, but the Heels stayed in the game with eight offensive boards that led to nine second-chance points. Gonzaga spent 15 of the first 20 minutes with the lead.

UNC charged to a five-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half, and the teams hopped on a scoring see-saw that continued until the closing moments. It was obvious with about 16 minutes left that we’d be in for a dramatic finish. (If it wasn’t obvious two days ago that we’d be in for a dramatic finish, that is.)

It’s a brutal ending for Gonzaga, which had a remarkable year. The Bulldogs were 37-1 entering the game, playing in the first Final Four in their nearly two-decade history as an every-year NCAA tournament team. There’s so much to be said for the Zags getting over a hump and making it to this point and no shame whatsoever in losing once they got here. This was Mark Few’s best team in 18 brilliant years, and it was good enough to win a national title. That it missed one so narrowly will sting for a long time.

North Carolina was playing in the title game for the second time in two years. The Heels lost at the buzzer to Kris Jenkins and Villanova 364 days before this game. Jenkins was in the stands this year, wearing a UNC shirt for another reason.

It took a lot to get back, and losing again in the last game of the season would’ve been devastating. That UNC managed to redeem itself on the same stage a year later will change everything about how this era of Heels basketball is viewed. Two title game defeats in a row would’ve caused a degree of pain that could never go away.

It’s the third national title for Roy Williams, whose Hall of Fame career got a little bit better. His team had to work for every ounce of it.

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Jason Kipnis is watching the Indians game on his phone at the NCAA title game

Efficient sports fan!

The first week of April is great for sports fans, because you’ve got MLB’s opening day coinciding with the end of the NCAA tournament.

Why not enjoy both?

That’s what Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is doing.

He also went to school at Arizona State, so he’s right at home in Phoenix. Who can blame him for wanting to celebrate his birthday here?

Kipnis is on the disabled list right now with a shoulder injury that will have him missing 10 days. So naturally he headed to Phoenix to watch the game, but he couldn’t miss out on his own team’s first road game against the Texas Rangers.

This, my friends, is what we call smart sports consumption.

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