Tar Heels take care of the ball en route to their sixth NCAA title


North Carolina basketball’s sixth national championship was far from pretty. The Tar Heels shot 35.6 percent from the field; Justin Jackson threw up a goose egg from beyond the arc — 0-of-9. UNC scored less than one point per possession, too.

A mountain — 44 in total — of fouls were called. Ultimately, none of that mattered or will be remembered, which has a lot to do with how well North Carolina took care of the basketball.

It may get lost in the details, but the Tar Heels turned the ball over just four times in the 71-65 win over Gonzaga. This is impressive, especially once you factor in the number of possessions in the game: 75.4. According to KenPom, UNC posted a turnover rate of only 5.4 percent.


Berry protective of the ball

Joel Berry, UNC’s lead ball-handler, posted a team-high usage rate of 28.8 percent, according to Sports Reference. That means that when Berry was on the floor, close to 29 percent of North Carolina’s possessions ended with a shot, foul drawn or turnover of the point guard. Berry, however, posted an individual turnover rate of just 4.3 percent. The junior handed out six assists as well.

No player who entered the game for UNC recorded more than one turnover. Tony Bradley, Nate Britt, Luke Maye and Seventh Woods combined to play 44 minutes off the bench; the bench committed zero turnovers. It is critical when rotation players bring something to the table, like Bradley’s seven rebounds, but do not take anything off.


Zagged when you should’ve zigged

Gonzaga, on the other hand, coughed the ball up 14 times and posted a turnover rate that hovered around 19 percent. Nine of the Bulldogs’ turnovers occurred in the second half.

In a game that featured 12 lead changes and 11 ties, this is a seismic difference. For the most part, UNC and Gonzaga were evenly matched. In fact, the Zags had an advantage from beyond the arc and the foul line. However, too many turnovers burned Gonzaga, including one by Przemek Karnowski with nine seconds left in the game.

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