NEW ORLEANS – 148 days ago, on November 9, the 2021-2022 college basketball season began with great uncertainty.
The two prior Final Four’s were drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, we experienced an all-out cancellation of the NCAA tournament, a devastating blow to fans of the sport. In 2021, March Madness didn’t have nearly the same feel, as the entire tournament was played inside of a bubble in Indianapolis.
No one knew what to expect as the 2021-2022 college basketball season commenced, but we’ve made it through — largely unscathed — and we have ourselves a national champion.
On Monday night at the Superdome in New Orleans, Kansas won its fourth national title, defeating North Carolina 72-69, pulling off the largest comeback in national championship game history.
It was the ultimate tale of two halves for Kansas, who went into halftime down 15 — they were down by as much as 16 — after North Carolina went on an 18-3 run to end the first half. Senior forward Brady Manek was three of five from beyond the arc in the first half, and Armando Bacot chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds, three coming on the offensive glass.
But Kansas came out with a different energy with its season on the line, responding with a 31-10 run of their own, taking a 56-50 lead with 10:23 left in the second half. Christian Braun had 10 points during the run, with Jalen Wilson adding eight points of his own.
Transfer guard Remy Martin was huge off the bench, contributing 14 points with three massive shots from beyond the arc in the second half. David McCormack had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas, and Braun finishing with a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Caleb Love missed the tying three at the buzzer for North Carolina. Love finished the night with 13 points on 5-24 shooting from the field.
It’s the second championship for Kansas under head coach Bill Self and the school’s first since 2008. Self has taken some heat over the years for some of his teams early NCAA tournaments exits.
“We’ve had some really terrific seasons and some teams that came up short,” Self said on Sunday. “And I do think that when you have as many good teams as we’ve had — at most places winning one national championship would be quite the accomplishment — I think as many good teams as we’ve had, one’s not enough.”
“So, I don’t think that I personally feel pressure that we have to win,” Self continued. “But I do know that when you have a chance to coach at a place where you have an opportunity to be in the game most years, you need to take advantage of that more than we have.”
With the retirement of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, someone has to take over the mantle as the preeminent coach in college basketball, and with his second title and 19 seasons at Kansas, Self would be one of the obvious choices.
“We’ve lost some icons due to retirement that have been the pillars of our profession for a while,” Self said Sunday. “And I think that all coaches my age — I don’t think that you’re going to see any person step into a role like Coach K’s had or anything like that.”
“And I think there’s numerous coaches out there, including myself, that need to have a voice and be active and responsible in helping those changes occur,” Self added.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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