Kansas Jayhawks secured their fourth NCAA Basketball title with a historic comeback win over North Carolina Tar Heels.
Down by 16 points at one stage, Kansas turned the tide in a back and forth contest to win the NCAA Championship 72-69 in the Superdome.
David McCormack (15 points, 10 Rebounds), Jalen Wilson (15 points), and Remy Martin (14 points) led the way for the Midwest Region’s No.1 Seed who took home the title for the first time since 2008.
Solid showings from Armando Bacot (15 points, 15 Rebounds), R.J. Davis (15 points, 12 Rebounds), and Brady Manek (13 points, 13 rebounds) weren’t enough for the No. 8 seed in the East Region who fell a three-pointer short of tying the 1985 Villanova Wildcats as the lowest-seeded team to ever win a national championship.
A victory would have given North Carolina its seventh national title in school history, but Caleb Love’s potential game-tying three at the buzzer fell short to give Kansas Jayhawks the win.
Kansas, since their last national championship, has a national title game loss, a Final Four loss, three Elite Eight losses, and two Sweet 16 losses to their name. The ghosts of games past seemed to rear their heads again as a litany of mistakes right out of the gates put Kansas in immediate trouble.
Remy Martin’s ill-advised shots off the bench, poor passing, and inability to rebound were all patent problems early on. The frontcourt was also guilty of misfiring with Jalen Wilson missing several easy looks and Mitch Lightfoot and David McCormack in early foul trouble.
The Big 12 representative found the antidote after the break after being down 25-40.
Kansas made a point of getting out in transition and attacking early in the shot clock, which led to multiple looks for Christian Braun and Wilson. The Dialed-up defensive intensity created turnovers and generated early opportunities for attack.
A three-pointer by Martin and an and-one on the break by Wilson gave the Jayhawks a six-point lead with a 31-10 run to start the second half.
Martin’s turnaround mirrored the team’s, as he put his first-half struggles behind him with multiple triples—including a clutch one over Armando Bacot in the final three minutes—an assist on a Wilson three, and a finish at the rim while keeping momentum on his team’s side all while Braun and Wilson continued to add to the score as well.
The opportunity to seal a win fell to McCormack who made the biggest shot of all and completed the comeback with back-to-back baskets in the final stretch to give Kansas the three-point lead that proved to be the championship-winning margin.
Caleb Love managed to get a shot off in time for a potential tie but his effort fell short as Jawhawks joined South Carolina as NCAA Basketball Champions.