2022 National Champions: Rock Chalk, Jayhawk


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The Kansas Jayhawks staged an historic comeback during the National Championship game against the Tar Heels of North Carolina.

Cabot Butts, Staff Writer

Two “blue bloods”, in the form of the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Kansas Jayhawks, faced off on April 4, in what could only be described as an absolute thriller of a game on the biggest stage in college sports. After 67 games, played throughout the second half of March, it was time to decide the champion.

In a matchup that pinned East regional champion against the Midwest regional champion, played at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, history was made, as the Jayhawks made the largest comeback in National Championship history.

Not only did Kansas make history by mounting the largest comeback in National Championship history, they also overcame a 15-point deficit at halftime, good for the largest halftime comeback in March Madness history. Thanks to two double-doubles by the Jayhawks, courtesy of Norfolk’s David McCormack and Burlington, KS’s Christian Braun, Kansas was able to overcome the deficit and reign victorious, knocking off the North Carolina Tar Heels, 72 to 69. Widely regarded to be a first round pick in this year’s NBA Draft, senior guard Ochai Agbaji was pivitol in the Jayhawks’ win, scoring 12 points in an astounding 37 minutes. 

The game appeared to be out-of-hand early, as the eight-seeded Tar Heels took a 15 point lead into the locker room, but the Jayhawks stormed back, outscoring North Carolina by 18 in the second half en route to a fourth NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, and first since 2008. This was the second victory in three tries for Kansas coach Bill Self.

Kansas’ road to the National Championship was not easy, however. After defeating Texas Southern in the Round of 64, the Jayhawks narrowly defeated the Creighton Blue Jays and Providence Friars in the Round of 32 and Sweet 16, respectively, before dismantling the Miami Hurricanes by 26 in the Elite Eight. In a Final Four consisting of four of the biggest blue bloods in college basketball: the Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Tar Heels, Villanova Wildcats, and Kansas Jayhawks, the Jayhawks were able to defeat the Villanova Wildcats by 16 on their way to the National Championship. 

Standing in their way: the North Carolina Tar Heels, who defeated the nine-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles, the top seeded Baylor Bears in the Round of 32, the fourth-seeded UCLA Bruins in the Sweet 16, the 15-seeded St. Peter’s Peacocks’ Cinderella story in the Elite Eight, and bested the two-seed Duke Blue Devils in the Final Four. 

The Jayhawks started the game off well – winning the tip and immediately taking a seven point lead. However, when the Tar Heels came out of the under-15 timeout, they went on a nine to two run, taking the lead en route to a 15 point halftime lead. Coming out of the locker room, though, Kansas did not show any signs of defeat, as they held UNC to only 29 points in the second half, while scoring 47 of their own. 

A major part of the Tar Heels scoring this season, Armando Bacot, came into the National Championship laboring an ankle injury he sustained in the game versus the Duke Blue Devils just two days before. With 54 seconds left, Bacot went down again, tugging at the same ankle that gave him problems against Duke. Only able to put little pressure on that ankle, Bacot was forced to leave the game and watch the last 38 seconds as his North Carolina Tar Heels fell by three points to the Kansas Jayhawks. 

While many people argue that the court floor was worn down during the final stages of the game, leading to Bacot’s injury, the NCAA released a statement saying that the floor was, in fact, not to blame, and Bacot’s injury was just an unfortunate facet of the game. 

All in all, the 2022 National Championship lived up to, and surpassed all expectations. The game had everything, from great shooting to amazing comebacks, and it all culminated in one team cutting down the nets in One Shining Moment.