The 2022 Final Four will conclude with an all-time national championship game on Monday night featuring the No. 1 seed Kansas and the No. 8 seed North Carolina. The Jayhawks spring into confidence after a 16-point wire-to-wire win over No. 2 seed Villanova in a national semifinal, while the Tar Heels moved forward with an epic 81-77 victory over the top seed. series No. 2 Duke, sending Mike Krzyzewski and rival Blue Devils home in the first-ever NCAA Tournament meeting between the programs.
The differences in how the two games played out play a big part in setting the stage for Monday night. When the ball is tilted,of an emotionally draining late-game victory on Saturday? Otherwise, Kansas might have an advantage in this department not just playing early in the game, but getting the result of a bench clearance blowout.
But you can’t focus on something as basic as rest when you have two programs that matter so much to the sport of college basketball. “Who’s Tired” is a storyline that comes back flat to honor these two titans of the sport before they step onto the bigger stage.
North Carolina and Duke have(UNC with six, Kansas with three) and have met four times in the Final Four, most recently in 2008 and as far back as 1957 when North Carolina beat Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks 54-53 in triple overtime to win the national championship. . The winner of the Final Four meetings in 2008 (Kansas) and 1993 (North Carolina) also won the title that season.
So here we are, at the end of a wild tournament that went down almost every round, with two iconic brands represented by teams playing at an extremely high level.
Let’s get into the storylines to watch on Monday night:
Kansas goes for the elusive fourth championship
How did the winningest program in Division I men’s basketball history only win three NCAA tournament titles? Bill Self ended a painful 20-year title shortage in 2008, his fifth year on the job, to move the iconic program to the three-championship club. But the lack of another championship under Self has been an oddity bordering on anomaly when you consider he more often than not brought a team in March that has all the makings of a title contender. national.
In the 14 seasons since Kansas’ last national championship, Kansas has been one of the top four teams in the last AP Top 25 poll – released ahead of the NCAA tournament – eight times, and in seven of the last 13 tournaments, the Jayhawks were given a 1 seed on Selection Sunday.
In total, Bill Self has led Kansas to the Elite Eight in six of the last 13 NCAA tournaments and three of those teams have gone on to the Final Four, including the 2012 team that was national runner-up Kentucky at the New Orleans. The Jayhawks have been a highly seeded team, received top seeds in the pool, and made deep runs in the tournament, essentially ticking all the boxes for a perennial title contender. At some point, you think Self and the Jayhawks are going to break through with another title, right?
As Kansas continued to move forward, there were discussions about what could have been in 2020, when the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was one of those #1 ranked Jayhawks teams in the nation and if there had been a draft Sunday they would have received a #1 seed. Not just a title contender, the 2020 Jayhawks may have been the national championship favorite heading into the tournament. Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack, stars of Saturday’s win over Villanova, were sophomores on that team and Christian Braun was a freshman. For a program that tended to have tough tournament exits — the 2016, 2017 and 2018 tournaments all had a No. 1 Jayhawks team losing in the Elite Eight — the cancellation of the 2020 tournament was just another loss. heartbreaking in march . Now this year’s team has a chance to deliver that elusive fourth national championship, turning the narrative on Kansas’ performance in the tournament upside down and moving the program up the roster into something more exclusive and familiar to the team. one of the true blue bloods in the game.
UNC looking to match history of No. 8 seed
Since the beginning of the classification in 1979, no team of a line lower than No. 8 has ever participated in the national championship game. North Carolina is the fifth No. 8 seed to reach the title game and is looking to become the second to win it all. Currently, the 1985 Villanova Wildcats are the only No. 8 seed to win a national championship, and they top the list of lowest seeds to win the NCAA Tournament with a No. 7 seed. UConn in 2014, a No. 6 seed to NC State in 1983 and a No. 6 seed from Kansas in 1988. Beating Kansas on Monday night would add the Tar Heels to this unique piece of NCAA tournament history as as the lowest seed to have won it all, although suggesting that this program, or even this team, “shocked the world” would be a mistake.
North Carolina may have an 8 seed in the bracket, but their form over the past month has been among the best in the nation. Since a home loss to Pitt that caused real damage as the Tar Heels resumed the NCAA Tournament, North Carolina has won 11 of 12 games, including two wins over Duke and victories over Baylor and UCLA, all on road or on neutral ground. If the college basketball season started Feb. 19, the selection committee would name North Carolina as the No. 8 seed. a No. 2 seed for more than a month – a notion backed by his wins against a No. 1, a No. 2 and a No. 4 in this tournament has a chance to make history thanks at this low ranking.
The battle of the greats could determine the outcome
Both of these teams like to run, both of these teams have great offense and a few three-point shooters that can turn a game around with a hot hand. But the battle could determine who has the edge in a tight game could be who wins low between Kansas senior David McCormack and North Carolina junior Armando Bacot.
Bacot, first-team All-ACC player and, continued his double-double tear with 11 points and 21 rebounds in the win over Duke. He’s one of the best rebounders in the nation and this year has become an even bigger part of how North Carolina handles its half-court offense. He also suffered an apparent ankle injury late in the second half against Duke, although he returned to the game. The news on Sunday was that the X-rays were negative and the recovery was going well enough to expect him to be full on Monday night, but that’s something to watch as the big guys start to hit.
McCormack has been Kansas’ best player at times, though that’s a title that gets passed down a lot on a cross-team with several capable contributors. Bill Self identified the senior as the go-to guy early against a Villanova team lacking in size down the bottom, and McCormack responded with a career-high 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds. Villanova’s win and Big 12 Tournament championship game win over Texas Tech featured a performance from McCormack that allowed him to use his 6-foot-10, 250-pound height to establish positioning advantages in the paint. Bacot, listed at 6-10 and 240 pounds, is capable of dealing with the force with the force at the bottom. It will be a possession-by-possession battle, and whoever wins the most often will give their team a major advantage in the game.