That was not a good national title game

Zags' Collins not blaming referees (0:24)

Gonzaga's Zach Collins knows a referee's job is difficult and admits that he has to be smarter and "not foul as much." (0:24)

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Forget the victory and the significance of the moment for champion North Carolina and national runner-up Gonzaga, because we must start with this: Monday night's national championship game -- beset by an abundance of foul calls, poor offense and a sleep-inducing rhythm -- stunk.

For everyone.

For the fans who paid a lot of money for seats at University of Phoenix Stadium. For the players who fought so hard to reach this stage, only to endure the wrath of an officiating crew (Verne Harris, Michael Stephens and Mike Eades) seemingly unprepared to manage the big bodies in the paint. For the diehards who welcomed Gonzaga vs. North Carolina as another testament to the shrinking divide between the powerhouses and the rest of the Division I pool. For the casual fans who waited for college basketball to dazzle them and instead left the couch or bar stool disappointed. And for the game itself, which underwent a slate of changes in recent years to enhance the product but watched a season conclude with an unimpressive showing on its final night.

"I don't think either team played really well," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said after the Tar Heels claimed their sixth national title.

The confetti that fell from the rafters after the game looked like sprinkles on college basketball's melted, messy championship sundae. North Carolina's late, game-winning rally did not save the title game from itself.

North Carolina won a championship after making just 15 percent of its 3-point attempts and 58 percent of its free throws. Excuse us for refusing to stand on a chair and dance for the Tar Heels or a Gonzaga squad that accrued two seven-point leads in the first half but finished 8-for-29 after halftime.

There were 44 fouls and 52 free throws between the two teams. The Bulldogs committed 14 turnovers. Przemek Karnowski finished 1-for-8. Justin Jackson, a projected first-round pick in this summer's NBA draft, finished 6-for-19.

With 10:13 to play, Gonzaga had entered the double-bonus. Zach Collins, Karnowski and Johnathan Williams all entered the second half with two fouls. This officiating crew robbed two of the most talented frontcourts in America of the rugged scrap we'd anticipated.

The one we all deserved.


Could we all just go to sleep -- many probably did -- and try again tomorrow?

Yes, the Tar Heels avenged last season's loss to Villanova, a memorable one that ended with a Kris Jenkins buzzer-beater. Gonzaga, despite the result, proved to all that a program from a league with a low profile can win at the highest level.

But the lackluster action, missed shots, numerous foul calls by overzealous officials -- Collins picked up his fifth foul with 5:03 to play -- more missed shots and bad basketball ruined the season's biggest night.

When Collins went to the bench late, Karnowski and Williams both had four fouls. North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks also dealt with four fouls down the stretch.

"I think the refs did a really good job," Collins said. "The job's not easy. I could sit here and say I'm frustrated about fouls, but at the end of the day, I've got to be smarter and not foul as much."

Beyond the fouls, however, Gonzaga and North Carolina missed an abundance of easy shots. It's never any fun when teams can't score.

During a timeout with nearly 10 minutes to play in a tight game, a University of Phoenix Stadium filled to the brim with more than 63,000 people fell to a hush.

No buzz. No vociferous cheering from either side. No tangible tension. Perhaps boredom.

Every year, the naysayers tout their critical views of the game. They say they prefer the NBA or other sports due to the unwatchable affairs they witness throughout the college basketball season.

Well, each year, the national title game offers an opportunity to counter those doubters. It's a championship matchup and a showcase for a niche sport with three weeks to dazzle the fans who spill into the sport after the conclusion of the NFL and college football seasons.

It's also a chance to turn those wishy-washy followers into devoted supporters.

If Monday night's game was college basketball's final pitch to them, then they all slammed the door and told us to never come back.

Can you blame them?

About 10 minutes after the first round of confetti fell to the floor on Monday night, with North Carolina's players and coaches standing on a podium while talking to CBS' Jim Nantz, someone at University of Phoenix Stadium dropped another batch of the stuff.

You could search all night, and you'd never find One Shining Moment from Monday's game in that pile.