May 26, 2024

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How the 2024 men's NCAA championship game was decided

How the 2024 men's NCAA championship game was decided

GLENDALE, Ariz. – They're back.

The UConn Huskies survived a 40-minute attack from Alabama to advance to their second straight national championship game with an 86-72 win at State Farm Stadium in their second national semifinal. The Purdue Boilermakers await them in the national championship game on Monday night, as well as a date with history.

UConn will try to become the first team since the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007 to win back-to-back national titles.

Freshman Stephon Castle set a career-high with 21 points to lead UConn past the Tide. Donovan Clingan scored 18 points, Alex Karaban and Cam Spencer each added 14 points, and Tristen Newton added 12 points.

Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears finished with a team-high 24. Grant Nelson added 19 and Aaron Estrada scored 13. Alabama had tied the game at 56 with 12:41 left, but the Huskies then went on a 30-16 run to seal the game and take the lead. To the national championship game.

With the title game now set, ESPN's John Gassaway, Josh Winfuss, Jeff Borzello and Myron Medcalf break down how to win Saturday's men's Final Four game, setting up what could happen Monday at State Farm Stadium. -Josh Winfus

How UConn beat Alabama 86-72

What's the key to Connecticut's win?

After giving up multiple eight-point leads in the first five minutes of the second half, and tying it at 56 with 12:41 remaining, UConn used an 8-0 run to dominate Alabama. And the Huskies never looked back.

Castle scored four straight goals to start the run before Samson Johnson added a dunk and Karapan hit a jump shot to put the Huskies up by eight. From there, Alabama never got closer than six. –winfuse

What surprised you most about this game?

UConn beat Alabama instead of shutting out the Crimson Tide. Yes, the Huskies are ranked No. 1 offensively in KenPom, but we're talking about a team that reached the Final Four by completely stifling opposing offenses. Just ask Illinois. On the other hand, against the Tide, Stefon Castle had a great scoring night and as a team UConn committed just four turnovers. –Gazaway

Who was the most outstanding player?

Castle entered into rare air when he joined Carmelo Anthony and Patrick Ewing to become just the third Big East freshman to score 20 points in a Final Four game. He added five rebounds for a career high of 21 points. When he finished off an alley-oop off guard Tristen Newton with 15:43 left, the run that gave the Huskies a lead they wouldn't relinquish began. –winfuse

Does UConn look less stoppable after this game?

These things are relative, right? No, UConn didn't have a 30-point lead over the Crimson Tide. That's a laughably high bar this team has set for itself. We're still talking about a team that has won 11 straight NCAA Tournament games by double digits. This is unrealistic. The Huskies are “stoppable” because history shows that even the most great teams can be stopped. But UConn still looks too tough to beat. –Gazaway

What will be Alabama's legacy?

Nate Oats once again created a juggernaut offensively that led the school to its first Final Four run – proof that he can enjoy even more success in the future. His formula works. His team takes a lot of 3-pointers and avoids mid-range shots. They play fast and dare teams to match their speed. That worked for half a game against the Huskies — though not a full game. But Oats' system has led Alabama to the biggest stage in college basketball — and could continue to do so in the coming seasons. That matters. — Myron Medcalf

How Purdue beat NC State 63-50

What is the key to Bordeaux's win?

Well, besides playing like the two-time AP MVP, Purdue advanced to the national championship game because of its outside shooting. The Boilermakers made 10 3-pointers (40% from behind the arc) while holding NC State to 28.8%. This – despite 16 turnovers, the most of the tournament – was a big change from Purdue's previous two NCAA Tournaments, when they made just 26.7% from 3. The Boilers' shooting helped them prevent a fifth loss when committing at least 14 turnovers. -Josh Winfus

What surprised you most about this game?

There were like 30 or 40 points missing in this game, and I didn't see that coming. Purdue reached the Final Four with the best offense in the tournament, scoring 1.29 points per possession in its four wins. But this time, the Boilermakers scored 63 points on 64 drives. NC State did well to force the Boilers into 16 turnovers, but the Wolfpack couldn't make their shots. –Gazaway

Who was the most outstanding player?

who else? Purdue runs through Zach Eddy one way or another, and it's happened again. Eddie finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds to notch his sixth straight double-double in the NCAA Tournament last year — while becoming the first Big Ten player with five double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament. He was also able to single-handedly impact the game beyond his scoring and rebounding. Eddie touched the ball on 41 possessions, producing 36 Purdue points and just six turnovers. –winfuse

What can Bordeaux's next opponent gain from this match?

Make no mistake Eddie. A 20-12 double for the winner of the Wooden Prize qualifies him to win NC State. The Wolfpack couldn't follow that up and score enough points. However, scoring Edey's goal from the field is your best option in a situation that doesn't have any good options. Eddie will get his points no matter what, but don't put him on the line and don't drain your frontcourt. –Gazaway

What will NC State's legacy be?

NC State's run to the Final Four remains historic. The Wolfpack were the sixth 11 seed to reach the Final Four, and their nine-game winning streak in elimination games was simply remarkable. Stories of Jim Valvano and NC State's stunning 1983 tournament championship came out of the archives, and Burns emerged as one of the breakout stars of the NCAA tournament. Kitts has plenty of job security now, and has proven that Raleigh is a place where transfers can make an immediate impact. — Jeff Borzello