The North Carolina Tar Heels were done in, by all things, their feet.

The ankle that bedeviled Armando Bacot at the end of North Carolina’s semifinal win over Duke popped back into the picture at the worst possible time and in the most preposterous of ways.

As he attempted driving to the hoop, Bacot’s bum right ankle encountered a loose floor board in the middle of the Superdome lane. The ball caromed away. With 50 seconds left in the game, Bacot was done and so too were North Carolina’s dreams of a 7th national title.

Until a misplaced Jayhawk foot somehow made the impossible dream live on for a final gasp. Kansas guard Dajuan Harris stepped out of bounds — twice — giving North Carolina a final possession.

Somehow, the timeout Hubert Davis didn’t use on what appeared to be Carolina’s disastrous, chaotic final possession was Heaven-sent. Here he’d be able to draw something up to send the game to overtime.

But because of another foot issue, that didn’t develop either. Attempting to run a curl to the 3-point arc, Brady Manek slipped in the lane and never had a chance to play the hero. With no secondary option to turn to, Caleb Love forced a well-defended heave that was never going down.

The most storybook ending in Tar Heel history was nixed. Because of feet and a fickle floor.

And, of course, a game that flipped completely on its head in the second half.

What went wrong in the second half

Prior to Monday night, no team had blown a halftime lead greater than 10 points in a national championship game. No team had squandered a title lead of 15 at any juncture since Cincinnati did against Loyola Chicago in 1963.

And 59 years later, no team had ever rallied from further back on championship night than the Ramblers.

Until Kansas.

The Jayhawks trailed by as many as 16 in the first half, and were down 40-25 at the break. Virtually every bit of that difference was accounted for because of second-chance points.

North Carolina brought all of the hustle in the opening half, outscoring the Jayhawks 18-2 in second-chance opportunities. And by doing so, the Heels covered up the fact they only shot 36.4% from the field.

The poor shooting continued in the second half, and so did the domination of the offensive glass. But the put-backs that carried the Heels throughout the first half did not follow. Carolina only converted its 16 offensive boards in the second half into 10 second-chance points.

And it was that — North Carolina’s 27.5% shooting in the second half — which but the Tar Heels in position to literally get tripped up late.

A team to remember fondly

With a win Monday night, these Heels would have become the most beloved team in program history.

They were the rarest of Carolina breeds — an underdog. And an underdog that just so happened to ruin Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game at Cameron Indoor before ending his career in the Final Four.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans for the Heels. And with that comes some ignominious details.

It took 59 years for Cincinnati to wriggle off the hook for blowing the biggest lead in championship game history, and 24 for Utah to no longer be remembered for giving up the largest halftime lead. Chances are decades will pass before North Carolina sheds that distinction.

They’ll no doubt be tickled about this one in Durham, as well. Had Carolina finished this run with a title, the opportunity to rib Duke fans would have carried into eternity. Instead, those people will be able to rebut with “You ended Coach K, but you still couldn’t win it all.”

And all of that stinks. But this loss shouldn’t sting nearly the same as when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins buried that 3 at the buzzer in 2016.

That Tar Heel team was built to win a title. This one was constructed in hopes of merely scratching its way into the NCAA Tournament.

The fact this Carolina team even made it past No. 1 seed Baylor in the 2nd round was somewhat of a miracle, and every win after that provided added icing on the cake.

It felt like the Tar Heels were going to run out of bodies Monday night as Bacot, Manek, Love and Puff Johnson all went down with various maladies. Davis only played 7 guys, because this team had no depth whatsoever.

And that’s what you would expect from an 8-seed.

This won’t remembered as the most beloved Carolina team of all-time any more after coming up short in the final. But of the Tar Heel teams who made it this far without cutting down the nets, none should be remembered more fondly than Hubert’s unlikely bunch.