The Latest: North Carolina, Villanova roll into title game
HOUSTON (AP) The Latest on the championship game of the NCAA Tournament between Villanova and North Carolina (all times local):
The Villanova Wildcats are national champions after Kris Jenkins swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat North Carolina 77-74 in one of the great NCAA title games of all time.
North Carolina's Marcus Paige had just tied it for the Tar Heels when he adjusted in the air and rattled home a game-tying 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left to make it 74-all.
For Villanova, it is its first national title since 1985, when the Wildcats shocked Georgetown.
The Villanova lead is down to one. It was 10 with 5:29 left, but some missed free throws by the Wildcats, a turnover and some big shots by UNC - especially Marcus Paige's 3 - have the Tar Heels back in it with a minute left.
Here comes North Carolina! The Tar Heels have pushed back within 69-64, with Joel Berry II's 3 giving UNC a big boost.
The Villanova lead as at 10 not long ago but with 2:44 left it is 69-64 `Cats.
After a couple of dud semifinal games on Saturday, the championship game has a chance to be classic.
Will the Tar Heels win their sixth title or will the Wildcats get their second?
North Carolina's championship winning streak is in jeopardy.
Going into tonight, the Tar Heels had won in their last four national championship game appearances - in 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009.
Ryan Arcidiacono has 11 points in the second half and Villanova has a 67-61 lead with 4:11 left.
The crowd at NRG Stadium was announced at 74,340, second largest in NCAA tournament final history.
Only 307 days until another major championship event at NGR Stadium.
Even before tipoff of the NCAA championship game Monday, the local Fox TV station had a graphic on the bottom of the screen with a countdown to the Super Bowl. That game will be played in Houston next February, and broadcast by Fox.
The big building was still known as Reliant Stadium and was less than two years old when the New England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29 there for the NFL championship on Feb. 1, 2004.
As for Villanova and North Carolina, the Wildcats are up 10 points with less than six minutes left. Their second national championship is in sight.
Villanova has not quite taken control, but the Wildcats did take their largest lead of the game. Two straight mid-range jumpers by Ryan Arcidiacono had Villanova up 55-48.
North Carolina has not been happy with the officiating in the second half, but its shooting has been the bigger issue. The Tar Heels were at 3 for 13 to start the half.
Right before the under 12 TV timeout, Kris Jenkins of Villanova picked up his third foul. He played only eight minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls, but has scored 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
Villanova's Mikal Bridges flew down the base line for a dunk and for the seventh time the NCAA championship game was tied.
Moments later, Bridges, a key reserve who entered the game hitting 61 percent of his shots, picked up his fourth foul.
The Tar Heels and Wildcats started trading baskets and NRG Stadium started rocking and then a key foul was called on North Carolina. Senior guard Marcus Paige picked up his third and went to the bench with Villanova up 49-46 and 12:14 left.
North Carolina has two turnovers and three misses, including Kennedy Meeks' blown layup in the first four minutes of the second half. Villanova has taken a couple of points off the halftime lead and it is 43-40, Tar Heels.
Meeks failed to dunk a lob at the rim and then was called for a questionable foul when he dove for a loose ball. It was the second foul on the North Carolina big man.
Let's see if the NCAA championship game stays close in the second half.
At least the first half was tight after a pair of semifinal games that weren't that close. North Carolina and Villanova have already had eight lead changes, along with six ties.
The Tar Heels and Wildcats each led by double figures at halftime Saturday night after allowing 28 first-half points.
North Carolina led Syracuse 39-28 on way to a 17-point semifinal win, while Villanova was up 42-28 on way to its 44-point win over Oklahoma - the most lopsided Final Four game ever.
''One Shining Moment'' inside NRG stadium at halftime of NCAA championship - minus the video. Sort of.
David Barrett, the composer of the piece that has been part of NCAA Tournament broadcasts for 30 years, was on the court to play the prelude to the song during halftime. The piano solo took a lot of the juice out of the building after a great first half of basketball between North Carolina and Villanova.
The stadium lights then went dark when he was done, and the music continued on the speakers. The highlights from past montages could be heard, but the video never showed up on any of the video boards inside the stadium. It was shown on the court floor, which could not by seen by many in the crowd.
Surely everything will get worked out for the postgame presentation with highlights from this year's NCAA Tournament.
The final game of the Final Four has been fabulous so far. At the half it is North Carolina 39, Villanova 34.
North Carolina is 26-4 with leading at halftime this season. Villanova is 1-4 this season, when trailing at the half. This is the first time the Wildcats have been behind at the break during the NCAA Tournament.
Joel Berry II, who averages 12.6 points per games, has 15 for North Carolina, including a coast-to-coast layup that had Villanova coach Jay Wright calling a timeout late in the first half.
Brothers Kris Jenkins and Nate Britt were on the floor at the same time in the in the final minute. Britt scored on a floater for the Heels. The backstory: Britt's parents became Jenkins' legal guardians in 2007 at the request of Jenkins' mother.
North Carolina is shooting 31.7 percent from 3-point range from the season, ranking 290th in the nation. The Tar Heels are 6 of 8 on 3-pointers in the NCAA championship game.
Joel Berry II has made three. His last one gave North Carolina a 30-29. Justin Jackson, the only Texas native in this game, has made both of his long-range shots so far.
Marcus Paige picked up his second foul for the Tar Heels. Kris Jenkins, who had two early fouls for Villanova, came back in the game after nine minutes on the bench and scored two consecutive baskets for the `Cats.
When North Carolina is hitting its 3s to go with its excellent inside game, the Tar Heels are almost impossible to beat. On four straight trips, the Tar Heels scored, including three 3-pointers, to take a 25-23 lead with less than seven minutes remaining.
Justin Jackson, Marcus Paige and Joel Berry II all hit corner 3s that had Villanova coach Jay Wright pleading with his players to rotate better on defense.
The Wildcats' offense is humming right along. They came into the game hitting 58 percent from the floor for the tournament. So far, Villanova is 10-for-18 (55 percent).
Maybe incidental contact, but sign of some physical play.
A referee stepped in between North Carolina's Justin Jackson and Villanova's Josh Hart after Hart wound up on the floor following a made basket by the Wildcats. The two were tangled while waiting for a possible rebound, when Jackson slung his body around and knocked Hart down.
After two semifinal blowouts, the final game of the Final Four is looking like it should be a good one. It's Villanova 17-14 with 10:40 left.
Villanova's depth is going to get tested early. Kris Jenkins, the Wildcats' second leading scorer, picked up two fouls in the first five minutes and went the bench. Moments later, Jenkins' brother, Nate Britt, entered the game for North Carolina. The brothers have not yet been on the court at the same time.
The two were very much looking forward to this matchup, though they wouldn't be going head-to-head if they were on the court together. Jenkins is a 6-foot-6 forward and Britt is a 6-foot-1 guard.
At the second TV timeout, Villanova led 14-12.
At the first TV timeout, the national championship game is tied at 7.
Ryan Archidiancono already has five points for Villanova, and followed his 3-pointer with a steal before missing another 3. The first timeout came after Villanova's second foul at the 15:41 mark. The Wildcats had only two fouls in the entire first half in their semifinal win against Oklahoma.
The first basket of the national championship game is scored by Joel Berry II, who hit a 3 less than two minutes in.
A sloppy start for Villanova. Freshman guard Jalen Brunson misses a quick layup, and North Carolina turns ball over on first possession.
What a performance of the national anthem, with fireworks going off overhead.
Petty Officer First Class General Wilson, a retired sailor, sang before the NCAA championship game.
Wilson has performed his renditions of patriotic songs across the United States, and as usual, got a roaring ovation when he was done.
The starting lineups have been announced. Time for basketball.
MJ is on the house. Coach Rollie, too
Michael Jordan has arrived at NRG Stadium to watch his North Carolina Tar Heels play Villanova for the NCAA Tournament championship.
Jordan is one of several dozen former Tar Heels expected to be in attendance as North Carolina goes for its sixth national title.
Jordan's late jumper in 1982 helped North Carolina beat Georgetown in the national championship game and give the late, great Dean Smith his first title as Tar Heels' coach.
On the Villanova side, former coach Rollie Massimino made it to the game. The 81-year-old is still coaching in Florida at NAIA Northwood. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to get to the game because his wife has been ailing.
Massimino led the Wildcats to the national title with an upset over Georgetown in 1985.
A lot of Villanova students made the 1,500-mile journey from Philadelphia to Houston for the Wildcats' first NCAA championship game since 1985.
Those sitting in seats on the floor at one end of the court - well, only a handful of them are sitting - just started a loud chant as the Wildcats took the court.
Anticipation is building for tipoff.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are on the court for warmups, with about 30 minutes until tipoff.
They got quite an ovation, and understandable considering all the Carolina blue in the big stadium.
The starting lineups for the NCAA championship game:
Villanova (34-5): Junior forward Kris Jenkins; senior forward Daniel Ochefu; freshman guard Jalen Brunson; junior guard Josh Hart; senior guard Ryan Arcidiancono.
North Carolina (33-6): Junior forward Kennedy Meeks; senior forward Brice Johnson; sophomore forward Justin Jackson; sophomore guard Joel Berry II; senior guard Marcus Paige.
North Carolina and Villanova roll into the NCAA Tournament championship game, averaging a combined 20 points per victory so far.
Tipoff at NRG Stadium in Houston is set for 8:19 CDT on Monday night. The Tar Heels are looking for their sixth national championship, and third since coach Roy Williams took over in 2003-04. North Carolina is in the championship game for the 10th time.
The Wildcats are making their third title game appearance and first since winning their only championship in 1985. If Villanova wins Monday night, its 31-year gap between championships will be the second largest in NCAA Tournament history behind Kansas, which went 36 years between titles (1952-88).
The Tar Heels are 5-1 against the Wildcats in NCAA Tournament play. The last meeting came in the first round of the 2013 tournament.
Villanova beat Oklahoma by a record 44 points in the Final Four. North Carolina beat Syracuse Saturday night.
AP sports writers Ralph D. Russo and Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.