Number 1 Seed Gonzaga held off number 7 seed South Carolina in a 77-73 win in the first game of the 2017 NCAA Final Four semifinals on Saturday, April 1st. Gonzaga built a comfortable lead of 65-51 midway through the second half. South Carolina began pressing and the Gamecocks reeled off 14 unanswered points, tying the game 65-65 and later took the lead after Rakym Felder scored a pair of free throws. Gonzaga finally kicked back into gear when Zach Collins converted a three-point jump shot, leading their team to never trail again. Gaining this win the Bulldogs advanced to their first championship game in the program’s history.
Number 1 seed North Carolina followed suit making their 20th Final Four appearance and second in a row while the 3rd seed Oregon Ducks were in their first Final Four since 1939. Kennedy Meeks capped off his career night with an offensive rebound that helped North Carolina hold off Oregon 77-76 and return to the NCAA championship game. Clinging to a one-point lead with 5.8 seconds remaining, the Tar Heels missed four straight free throws but managed to grab the rebounds after both of the misses in the back half. Meeks got the last one but threw the ball outside which allowed the Tar Heels to eliminate the Ducks from the Final Four.
The 8th national championship between two Number 1 seeds featured 46 made goals and 44 fouls. For the second year in a row the North Carolina Tar Heels could see their title hopes hanging in the balance. Gonzaga held the lead 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. The Tar Heels took over with a five-point lead in the first few minutes of the second half and continued until the closing moments. Gonzaga was trailing by three points when Williams-Goss had his jumper blocked with 15 seconds remaining. Berry gathered the loose ball and found Jackson for a national title-cementing dunk 3 seconds later. The Gonzaga’s were left heartbroken while the Tar Heels finished on an 8-0 run to earn their first championship since 2009.