Men’s college basketball is a new national champion. The Kansas Jayhawks launched a historic comeback to win 72-69 over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Monday night final in New Orleans, the school’s fourth national title and second under coach Bill Self, who also led KU to the 2008 podium finish. Kansas made history by Overcoming the biggest first-half deficit ever for a National Champion, after 40-25 in the break before exiting the locker room with an 18-6 innings that wiped out any notion of an escaping Tar Heels. The previous largest first-half deficit for the champ was 11, achieved by the 2001 Duke Blue Devils and 1958 Temple Owls.
With Kansas cutting the net to lay the arc in the 2021-22 season, ESPN’s squad of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Joe Lunardi got one last look at this historic National Championship game, including what went right in Kansas and what about it. ? He missed North Carolina in the second half. The ESPN quartet also reflected on the meaning of the Kansas victory, over the past five months of college basketball, and also cast an outlook on the staff that the Jayhawks and Tar Heels return in 2022-23.
What was the first reason that pushed Kansas to beat North Carolina?
North Carolina and Kansas came together to give us one of the most exciting National Title games in years. Five minutes before play, Kansas had a lead 63-61 after being down 15 points in the first half. North Carolina’s offensive firepower and defensive pressure created that cushion in the break, but KS’ offensive efficiency helped them recover and take the lead in the second half. That 10-minute run with Kansas early in the second half, when they beat North Carolina 31-10, kept Tar Heels chasing them until the end of the game. But in the last minutes, both teams had a chance.
The reason Kansas won this game was because it did what North Carolina did with Southern Texas, Providence and Miami in the NCAA tournament, going on with one of its great game-changing rounds. It was a different team in the second half. Leaky Black made his fourth foul early, putting pressure on Ochai Agbaji, who had been chased by the North Carolina winger. Jalen Wilson got hot after the break, and overall, the Jayhawks found the same gear they hit when they edged out Hurricanes 45-17 in the second half of the Elite Eight.
As Kansas was advancing, you could see the fatigue affecting North Carolina. Armando Bacot, who turned his ankle in his team’s win over the Duke, was limping early in the second half. Tar Heels tired of chasing Kansas players off screens and brawling on the block with David McCormack, who gave him the skies over Brady Mannick a significant three-point lead in the final seconds.
KS made 58% of its shots in the second half while UNC made only 28% call. Throughout the post-season, Kansas has been able to live up to a level no opponent can match, and Tarr’s heel has met the same fate.
And so KU pressed the button again and joined Loyola Chicago from 1962-1963 as the only teams to come back from a 15-point deficit in the national title match to win, securing Bill Self’s second national championship. – Medcalf
Was this an epic return to Kansas or an epic meltdown for North Carolina?
Certainly the former. Despite the Jayhawks playing poorly after the opening round 7-0, they used every weapon in their arsenal to spin the second half in their favour. And it’s not as if North Carolina has abandoned it. anything but. Tar Heels made several big plays of their own after falling behind, only to run out of time – and the players – in the last minutes.
Somehow, Kansas won the match twice. The quick start may have crippled a less strident opponent, and the second half reflected championship caliber in all respects. It was an epic turnaround and a fitting end to one of the NCAA’s greatest championships.
Both teams deserve nothing but praise. – Lonardi
What is the historical impact of this game on KS and Bill Self?
The Atlanta Braves and manager Bobby Cox won 14 consecutive Premier League titles from 1991 to 2005. And one World Championship. Were they amazing accomplishments? or defaulters? What would the multiple titles mean to their legacy?
The Kansas Jayhawks were the top seed in the NCAA Championship which is unimaginable nine times (10 if we count the canceled 2020 course) under Bill Self – literally half his tenure at Lawrence. And only once did they win the final. Even Self agrees that there should have been more prizes.
On Monday night, the Jayhawks did what the Brave couldn’t: They won their fourth National Championship in school history—their own second for their coach—and in the process turned all those unfulfilled seeds into happy accidents.
Winning heals everyone. One title could be a coincidence, but two cement a legacy. Even if Bill Self has never won another match. – Lonardi
Which of these teams is in better shape for next season? Could Kansas become the first consecutive winner since Florida in 2006-2007?
Obviously, a lot of that depends on the NBA draft and transfer gate. But as it stands, I think Kansas is in a slightly better shape. Considering the Jayhawks ranked fourth on my Way-Too-Early Top 25 list, and North Carolina slipped at number five, I obviously don’t think there’s a huge gap. While KS McCormack, AGBJI, Christian Brown, Remy Martin, Mitch Lightfoot and Jalen Coleman Lands are expected to lose, Bill Self should bring back Rookies from this season’s team at Daguan Harris Jr. and Wilson. But real optimism stems from the upcoming enlistment category, a group that includes three five-star prospects. Grady Dick has had as good a season as anyone in the 2022 class, while MJ Rice is physically ready for college basketball and Ernst Ode will help solidify the interior. I also think the Jayhawks are entering the portal for some help, especially up front.
Meanwhile, North Carolina could reach the top five if Bacot, Caleb Love and RJ Davis return to Chapel Hill. Is this excessively possible? Mostly not. Bacot may have gone out the door on both occasions before the NCAA tournament kicked off, while Love Kemba Walker’s impression this month has put him in a position to get out of the NBA as well. Black has a pretty big season to use, but that’s unspecified at this point. So there’s a lot in the air for Hubert Davis next season. Regardless, Davis will need something from the newcomers, a pair of top 50 potential Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington. How the role they will play will be determined immediately by whether the current stars stay or go. – Borzelo
What was the most memorable aspect of the 2021-22 college basketball season? How will it be remembered?
We’ll remember that this was, finally, back to normal, and that the season ended with an incredible run by 15th seed St Peter and a highly entertaining blue-blooded final four. The fans are back, and in retrospect, we’ll be ignoring the fact that there are still matches that have been rescheduled or even canceled.
But things really started rolling around once we got to March. Peacock Shaheen Holloway made history by astonishing Kentucky and became the first-ever No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight. North Carolina State made their stunning run as the No. 8 seed. Tar Heels finished Mike Krzyzewski’s career in the National Semifinals at the Superdome, adding an indelible chapter to this long rivalry.
Most of all, we’ll remember that Kansas overcame its first-half deficit by 15 points and win the title. The Jayhawks were the only first seed among New Orleans’ storied names, and they did what it took to get their name written in the history books again. – Gasway