Kansas beats North Carolina to earn its 4th NCAA men’s basketball championship

Kansas beat North Carolina in the NCAA men’s basketball title game in New Orleans on Monday, the program’s 4th national championship and the second for longtime coach Bill Self.

[Previous story, published at 1:30 p.m. ET]

Men’s college basketball titans North Carolina and Kansas will meet in the NCAA national championship game in New Orleans on Monday night at 9:20 p.m. ET, and one team will end the night by adding another trophy to its illustrious cabinet.

The 8th-seed UNC is the clear underdog despite the acclaimed team’s history of success, which includes six national titles. The Tar Heels (29-9) are led by coach Hubert Davis, who is in his first year in the role at UNC. He took over from Roy Williams, who retired after helming UNC for 18 seasons and Kansas for 15 years before that.

UNC was a team on the bubble just over a month ago, but a late-season run of wins clinched a spot in the tournament. Then came the madness of March, as UNC upset No. 1 seed Baylor in overtime and ended the unlikely Cinderella run of 15-seed St. Peter’s in the Elite Eight.
They followed those with a back-and-forth slugfest over bitter rival Duke on Saturday, sending legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski into retirement with a loss — and inspiring tens of thousands of fans in Chapel Hill into raucous celebrations that left 10 people injured.

Kansas (33-6), a No. 1 seed, has had a less eventful journey to the title game. The Jayhawks survived close matchups with Creighton and Providence in the earlier rounds, and pulled away late in a romp over 10th-seed Miami to reach the Final Four.

On Saturday, Kansas led wire-to-wire over No. 2 seed Villanova in a comfortable 81-65 win, buoyed by the three-point shooting of senior guard Ochai Agbaji and junior guard Christian Braun. Senior forward David McCormack chipped in 25 points on just 12 shots and sophomore forward Jalen Wilson added another 11 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
UNC and Kansas advance to NCAA men's basketball championship as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's legendary career comes to an end

Kansas coach Bill Self, who last won a national title in 2008, is searching for the program’s fourth championship. The Jayhawks lost in the title game in 2012 and were one of the favorites in 2020 before the tournament was canceled due to Covid-19. UNC has won six national titles in its history, including in 2005, 2009 and 2017.

Both UNC and Kansas rely on the steady hands of upperclassmen in a sport often defined by star one-and-done freshmen on their way to the NBA.

The Tar Heels feature the scoring and rebounding prowess of junior forward Armando Bacot, the big man who leads the team with 16 points per game. He pulled down 21 rebounds against Duke on Saturday and 22 against St. Peter’s, as UNC racked up a number of second-chance opportunities. However, Bacot hurt his ankle against Duke and could be limited in the title game.

UNC’s lineup also includes three other players who average at least 13 points a game in senior forward Brady Manek and sophomore guards RJ Davis and Caleb Love. Love has been the star of the tournament for UNC and notched a team-best 28 points in the win over Duke, including an off-the-dribble 3-pointer with 25 seconds left that sealed the win.

Kansas, meanwhile, relies on the stellar shooting of Agbaji, who shot 41% from 3-point range this season and led the team in scoring with about 19 points per game. The Jayhawks use an inside-out game as they spread an array of shooters around McCormack’s 6-foot-10 presence in the paint.

They also rely for stretches on forward Mitch Lightfoot, a 6th-year senior and role player who, along with 5th-year senior Chris Teahan, are the only remaining players from Kansas’ 2018 Final Four team. Their presence is only possible because the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to all winter sport athletes due to the pandemic.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: The Bloggers Briefing