The 2021-22 college hoops season was so, so special. The championship game was the perfect end to a great tournament. After enjoying the Kansas-North Carolina contest, I went to the VBDI and got together my sweet 16 moments from the past season. Here we go:
Kansas wins national title
The Jayhawks staged the greatest comeback in championship game history, rallying from a 16-point deficit. Kansas earned its fourth NCAA tournament championship in school history. Bill Self's team also dominated the Big 12, earning the regular season and tournament titles.
Coach K's farewell
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski saw his run for a sixth national championship stopped by rival North Carolina at the Final Four. Coach K, my choice for GOAT (greatest of all time), wrapped up his career with 1,202 wins over 47 years of coaching. He made a record 13 Final Fours and a record 36 trips to the Big Dance. He earned 101 NCAA tournament wins and five national titles.
Saint Peter's becomes first 15-seed in Elite Eight
Saint Peter's made a major historic run in the Big Dance, becoming the first 15-seed to make the Elite Eight. Shaheen Holloway's Cinderella story beat Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue before falling to North Carolina in the Elite Eight. After the season, Holloway opted to depart the Peacocks for Seton Hall and the Big East. Several other players decided to leave, including Doug Edert and Daryl Banks III.
Gonzaga falls short
Gonzaga was one of the favorites to cut down the nets all season long. Mark Few's squad earned a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament but lost to Arkansas in the round of 16. The Zags finished 28-4 as Drew Timme was a Wooden Award finalist. Close, but still short of a championship.
First-year coach Tommy Lloyd did an outstanding job, leading the Wildcats to a 33-4 record which included a Pac-12 regular season title and 18-2 league record. The Wildcats led the nation in assists per game at 19.6 and also captured the Pac-12 tournament title. Houston ended the dreams of a national championship in the Sweet 16.
Oscar Tshiebwe becomes national player of the year
Tshiebwe won numerous honors, including the Wooden and Naismith Awards. He averaged 15.1 RPG, the first since Lewis Lloyd of Drake and Larry Smith of Alcorn State in 1979-80 to average at least 15 PPG and 15 RPG in a season. Tshiebwe had five games with 20 or more rebounds, and posted 15 or more rebounds 17 times.
Armando Bacot emerges as double-double machine
Bacot became the first player in NCAA tournament history with six double-doubles as he led UNC to the title game. He grabbed 36 rebounds (21 vs. Duke, 15 vs. Kansas), which is third-most in a single Final Four since 1973. Bacot totaled 99 rebounds in the Big Dance, second all-time in a single tournament behind Tom Gola of La Salle, who had 102 in the 1954 NCAA tournament (in five games). Bacot had 31 double-doubles this season and logged 15-plus rebounds in each of his final five games.
Ed Cooley became the first Providence coach to win the Naismith Coach of the Year. He led the Friars to a 27-6 record before losing to eventual champion Kansas in the Sweet 16. Not bad for a team picked seventh in the Big East preseason poll.
Big Ten's regular-season star power
The conference was clearly loaded. Johnny Davis of Wisconsin, Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, Keegan Murray of Iowa, E.J. Liddell of Ohio State and Jaden Ivey of Purdue made their share of postseason All-America teams. This list of five doesn't include Hunter Dickinson (Michigan), Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana) or Ron Harper Jr. (Rutgers) The Big Ten had nine in the field of 68 and none in the Final Four, but give the players credit for a super season.
Bob Huggins makes the Hall of Fame
After 916 wins in over 40 seasons on the sideline, Huggy Bear made it to Springfield and the Hall of Fame. He just finished his 15th season with the Mountaineers. Pretty amazing for a guy who first college head-coaching job came at Walsh University in 1980.
Auburn won the SEC and had a special season under Bruce Pearl. Kentucky was a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance. Tennessee won 27 games and the SEC tournament title. Arkansas made it to the Elite Eight before falling to Duke; the win over Gonzaga was a major feat. Alabama reached the NCAA tournament and LSU, Texas A&M and Florida all won 20 or more games.
Coaching carousel spins
The season ended less than a week ago and there are already 50 Division I coaching changes. Some familiar names are back on the sidelines including Sean Miller, Archie Miller, Thad Matta and Steve Prohm. Other coaches left jobs and landed elsewhere quickly, like Frank Martin to UMass. The SEC has had six coaching moves already. Stay tuned, there will be more activity.
Transfer portal churns
The transfer portal has changed the way Division I teams build their rosters. How important were transfers? Kansas won with Remy Martin as one of three transfers. For the 2022-23 season, there are already over 1.000 names in the portal. A number of starters who averaged double figures in scoring have opted to move elsewhere.
Pitino continues building a winner
In his second season as Iona head coach, Rick Pitino led the Gaels to the MAAC regular season title before falling to Rider in the conference tournament. He earned his 800th career win and also an upset of Alabama during a 25-win season.
Murray State's 21-game win streak
The Racers were ranked for much of the season, which led to Matt McMahon going on to LSU. The OVC champion Racers were a 7-seed in the NCAA tournament, where they were upset by Saint Peter. KJ Williams averaged 18 PPG and 8.4 RPG before entering the transfer portal.
Darius McGhee shines
The Liberty guard was one of the nation's most prolific scorers at 24.6 PPG. He improved by over nine points per game over the 2020-21 campaign. McGhee scored 47 points against Kennesaw State.
The 17th annual Dick Vitale Gala, benefiting the V Foundation, will be held May 6 at the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, Florida. For more information visit dickvitaleonline.com.