How the Kansas Jayhawks won the 2022 Men’s National Championship and what’s next for KU and the North Carolina Tar Heels

Men’s college basketball has a new national champion. The Kansas Jayhawks launched a historic comeback to win 72-69 over the North Carolina Tar Heels in Monday night’s final in New Orleans, the school’s fourth national title and second under the coach Bill Self, who also led KU to the 2008 crown. Kansas made history by overcoming the biggest halftime deficit ever for a national champion, trailing 40-25 at the break before storming out of the locker room with an 18-6 run that eliminated any notion of Tar Heels runaway. The previous biggest halftime deficit for a champion was 11, achieved by the 2001 Duke Blue Devils and the 1958 Temple Owls.

With Kansas cutting the nets to put a bow on the 2021-22 season, ESPN’s team of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Joe Lunardi took one last look at this historic national championship game, including figured out what went right for Kansas and what went wrong for North Carolina in the second half. The ESPN quartet also reflected on the significance of Kansas’ triumph, the past five months of college basketball and also took a look at the personnel the Jayhawks and Tar Heels have back in 2022-23.


What was the #1 reason Kansas beat North Carolina?

North Carolina and Kansas have come together to give us one of the most exciting national title matches in years. With five minutes to play, Kansas had a 63-61 advantage after dropping 15 points at halftime. North Carolina’s offensive firepower and defensive pressure had created that cushion before the break, but Kansas’ offensive efficiency helped it recover and take the lead in the second half. That 10-minute streak for Kansas early in the second half, when they beat North Carolina 31-10, allowed the Tar Heels to chase them until the end of the game. In the final minutes, however, both teams had their chance.

The reason Kansas won this game is because they did to North Carolina what they did to Texas Southern, Providence and Miami in the NCAA Tournament, when they performed one of their fabulous game-changing runs. It was another team in the second half. Leaky Black committed his fourth foul early, providing relief to Ochai Agbaji, who had otherwise been hounded by the North Carolina wing. Jalen Wilson was hot after the break, and in general the Jayhawks found the same gear they hit when they outscored the Hurricanes 45-17 in the second half of their Elite Eight game.

As Kansas rallied, you could see the fatigue affecting North Carolina. Armando Bacot, who sprained his ankle in his team’s win over Duke, was limping early in the second half. The Tar Heels were tired of chasing Kansas players off screens and battling on the block with David McCormack, whose overhead hook over Brady Manek gave Kansas a critical three-point lead in the final seconds.

Kansas made 58% of their shots in the second half while UNC connected on just 28%. Throughout the playoffs, Kansas was able to elevate to a level no opponent could match, and the Tar Heels suffered the same fate.

And so KU pressed the button again and joined the 1962-63 Loyola Chicago team as the only teams to come back from a 15-point deficit in the national title game to win and secure the second championship National by Bill Self. — Medcalf

Was it more of an epic Kansas comeback or an epic North Carolina meltdown?

Definitely the old one. As bad as the Jayhawks played after their 7-0 first run, they used every weapon in their arsenal to turn the second half in their favor. And it’s not like North Carolina gave it away. Everything but. The Tar Heels made several big plays after falling behind late, only to run out of time – and players – in the final minutes.

Somehow Kansas won the game twice. The quick start could have crippled a lesser opponent, and the second-half knockdown was championship-caliber by any measure. It was an epic turnaround and a fitting end to one of the NCAA’s greatest tournaments.

Both teams deserve nothing but praise. — Monday

What is the historical impact of this game for Kansas and Bill Self?

The Atlanta Braves and manager Bobby Cox won 14 straight NL East titles from 1991-2005. And a World Series. Were they incredible achievers? Or underperformers? And what would multiple titles have meant for their legacy?

The Kansas Jayhawks have been the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament nine times (10 if you count the canceled 2020 tournament) under Bill Self — literally half his tenure at Lawrence. And only once before had they won the last game. Even Self agrees there should have been more trophies.

On Monday night, the Jayhawks did what the Braves never could: They won the fourth national championship in school history — a second signing for their coach — and in the process turned all those heads. No. 1 series not satisfied in happy accidents.

Winning heals everything. One title may be a fluke, but two cement a legacy. Even if Bill Self never wins a match again. — Monday

Which of these teams is in better shape for next season? Can Kansas become the first straight winner since Florida in 2006-07?

It obviously largely depends on the NBA draft and the transfer portal. But as it stands, I think Kansas is in slightly better shape. And given that the Jayhawks are ranked No. 4 in my Top 25 Way-Too-Early and North Carolina is ranked at No. 5, I clearly don’t think there’s a huge gap. While Kansas is expected to lose McCormack, Agbaji, Christian Braun, Remy Martin, Mitch Lightfoot and Jalen Coleman-Lands, Bill Self is expected to drop two starters from this season’s team in Dajuan Harris Jr. and Wilson. But the real optimism comes from the incoming recruiting class, a group that includes three five-star prospects. Gradey Dick has had as good a senior season as anyone in the 2022 class, while MJ Rice is physically fit for college basketball and Ernest Udeh will help anchor the inside. I also think the Jayhawks are coming into the portal for help, especially up front.

Meanwhile, North Carolina could be as high as the top five if Bacot, Caleb Love and RJ Davis all return to Chapel Hill. Is it too likely? Probably not. Bacot might have been out the door before the NCAA Tournament anyway, while Love’s Kemba Walker’s impression this month has potentially put him in a position to leave the NBA as well. Black has a super senior season he can use, but that’s undetermined at this point. So there is a lot more in the air for Hubert Davis next season. Either way, Davis will need something from his newcomers, a pair of top 50 prospects in Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington. The importance of the role they have from the start will be determined by whether the current stars stay or leave. — Borzello

What will be the most memorable aspect of the 2021-22 college basketball season? How will he be remembered?

We will remember that it was finally a return to normal and the season ended with an incredible run from the No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s and a very entertaining Final Four filled to the brim with blue blood. Fans came back, and in retrospect, we’ll gloss over the fact that there were still rescheduled or even canceled matches.

But things really started once we arrived in March. Shaheen Holloway’s Peacocks made history by stunning Kentucky and becoming the first No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight. North Carolina had their own incredible run as the No. 8 seed. The Tar Heels ended Mike Krzyzewski’s career in a national semi-final at the Superdome, adding an indelible chapter to that rivalry. historical.

Above all, we will remember Kansas overcoming a 15-point halftime deficit and winning the title. The Jayhawks were the only No. 1 seed among legendary New Orleans names and did what it took to write their name in the history books again. — Gasaway

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