It was a matchup of Blue-Blood schools in the NCAA Final Four this year as UNC beat Duke to advance to the NCAA Basketball National Championship after Kansas defeated Villanova. Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks took on Hubert Davis and the UNC Tar Heels last night, and I’m here to break down the game.
Kansas and Bill Self were looking for their second National Championship together in their fourth Final Four appearance. Hubert Davis on the other hand is a first year coach and took this Tar Heels squad that lost by 30 to Miami midseason, all the way to the National Championship.
UNC’s play all tournament has been highlighted by big plays inside from Brady Manek and Armando Bacot, as well as lights out shooting from Caleb Love. The Jayhawks on the other hand have relied on fastbreak points, three pointers from Remy Martin, and big plays from Ochai Agbaji.
I’ll give you a rundown of the first and second half as well as explain implications for next season.
The game started off and Kansas immediately put the pressure on. David McCormack was playing well inside and Agbaji hit his first two shots of the game. Kansas opened up on a 7-0 run to start the game, but UNC did not give up. Armando Bacot helped his team fight back despite hurting his ankle on Saturday against Duke.
With six minutes left in the half, the Jayhawks were down two. Jalen Wilson made a jumper to tie the game, but it would be Kansas’ second to last field goal of the half. UNC went on a monstrous 18-3 run to end the half, led by Brady Manek and Armando Bacot. North Carolina held a 40-25 lead at halftime, and Kansas went from being -210 at the start of the game to +450 at halftime.
If you’ve been watching this tournament then you know what Kansas does in the second half. They play stifling defense, transition down the court with speed, and shoot the ball incredibly well. They did it in the Elite Eight against University of Miami, outscoring the Canes 47-15 in the second half.
The Jayhawks tried to emulate that performance last night and started the second half with a 13-5 run that brought UNC’s lead down to just seven with 15:40 left to play in the game. Remy Martin had a phenomenal second half, scoring 11 of his 14 in the second frame. He also would be the one to hit a jumper just under the halfway mark of the half to send Kansas back to the lead, 53-50.
The Tar Heels did not just roll over for Kansas, they fought back with heart and passion. Puff Johnson coming off the bench played his heart out, scoring 11 points in 18 minutes. Johnson was hit in the chest on a play and was seen writhing in pain on the floor.
Armando Bacot, despite rolling his ankle against Duke, played phenomenal basketball until he eventually left the game with just two minutes to play. With Kansas up three with just under five seconds to play, UNC inbounded the ball to Caleb Love who took a deep three… and missed! Kansas comes out victorious 72-69 and wins their second title under coach Bill Self.
In Honor of the 2020 Jayhawks
Coach Bill Self and the rest of the Jayhawks team insisted that this title was for the 2020 Kansas team that never got to play in its NCAA Tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four of this team’s starters were on that 2020 team, but coach Self insisted that the rest of that team deserves a slice of this title.
Remy Martin is a transfer from Arizona State, but Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Christian Braun, and Jalen Wilson all were a part of that 2020 team and all scored more than 10 points tonight. Their long journey and hard work has paid off, as Kansas are this year’s NCAA Basketball National Champions.