Final Four 2022 – Best plays, moments and breakdown of North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Kansas Jayhawks national title game

We’re coming to the end of March Madness 2022. After Saturday’s Final Four there is one game to play. The North Carolina Tar Heels face the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Jayhawks, a No. 1 seed, crushed the Villanova Wildcats behind a career night from David McCormack. It continued an impressive run by Kansas. The Jayhawks won their Elite Eight and Final Four games by 15 or more points. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last team to win by such large margins in those rounds and win it all was the 1981 Indiana Hoosiers.

Kansas coach Bill Self is seeking his second national title after winning in 2008. At Kansas, Self has never lost to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament.

The Tar Heels, a No. 8 seed, have become one of the darlings of this tournament. They are just the fourth No. 8 seed to reach the national title game. Villanova’s 1985 team is the only 8-seed to win it all. Along the way, UNC handed rival Duke a loss in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s home finale and ousted the Blue Devils from the NCAA tournament in Saturday’s other national semifinal.

Hubert Davis, in his first year as UNC’s coach, is just the sixth coach to reach a title game in his first season. Michigan’s Steve Fisher (1989) is the only coach to win it all in his first year.

UNC entered March Madness with 100-1 odds of winning the title and are four-point underdogs to the Jayhawks, but the Tar Heels might have their own history on their side. UNC is 2-0 in national championship games in New Orleans — defeating Georgetown in 1982 and Michigan in 1993.

He may not be on the sideline for this matchup, but we would be remiss not to mention the Roy Williams of it all. For the first time, the national title game features two head coaches who succeeded the same coach. Self took over for Williams in 2003 and Davis succeeded him in 2021.

Here are the top plays and moments of the national championship matchup:

Tar Heels stun KU with 16-0 run

Kansas was favored coming into the national title game, and the Jayhawks scored the night’s first seven points. But if this was supposed to be a coronation for No. 1 seed KU, someone forgot to tell North Carolina.

Starting with a little more than six minutes remaining in the half, the Tar Heels reeled off 16 unanswered points and went to halftime with a 40-25 lead.

After much pregame speculation over the condition of Armando Bacot’s ankle, the senior proved to be a good barometer of his team. Bacot moved gingerly early, but after a few minutes he was posting up and crashing the offensive glass with his usual effectiveness. He ended the half with a 12-10 points-rebounds double-double in his 19 minutes.

Neither team shot with much accuracy, but the difference for UNC was second-chance points and getting to the line. The Heels pulled down eight offensive boards and converted those into 18 second-chance points. At the same time, North Carolina was shooting an almost Villanova-like 13-of-16 on its free throws.

As for Kansas, despite starting the game with yet another Ochai Agbaji 3, the Jayhawks looked completely out of sorts late in the first half. David McCormack picked up two fouls and played just 10 minutes. Without him, Bill Self’s team was at a disadvantage on the glass on both ends of the floor.

Can the Jayhawks recover? It will likely take more minutes from McCormack and more shot attempts by Agbaji. After opening the game with that make from beyond the arc, Agbaji scored just five more points over the rest of the half. His teammate Remy Martin looked tentative at best, and Christian Braun is 1-of-7 from the floor.

Kansas is in a spot where few expected the Jayhawks to be, but the Tar Heels are exactly where they said they would find themselves. All tournament long, Hubert Davis and his team have been more resilient and ultimately more effective than their opponents.

With a 15-point lead, North Carolina is 20 minutes away from a national title. — John Gasaway

Woah, we’re halfway there

Sixteen unanswered points for the Tar Heels as the first half came to a close? Yup. As hot as the Jayhawks came out the gate, North Carolina answered back with equal fervor. This basically sums it up:

UNC leads by 15 at the half.

Starting five(s)

At the risk of sounding redundant, it all comes down to this. These are the lineups who will take the floor for all the marbles.

The Truth remains true

In the Jayhawks he trusts. Paul Pierce is in the building representing for his alma mater.

Your move, Michael Jordan …

UNC fans in full effect

Strong turnout. If the fans gathering at the Tar Heels’ buses were any indication, there will be a lot of Carolina blue in the crowd tonight.

Prepping for a buzzer beater


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