Kansas coach Bill Self secured his second national title after winning in 2008. At Kansas, Self had never lost to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament -- a tradition he continued on Monday.
The Tar Heels, a No. 8 seed, had become one of the darlings of this season's tournament. They were just the fourth No. 8 seed to reach the national title game (Villanova's 1985 team is still 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 national semifinal.
Hubert Davis, in his first year as UNC's coach, became just the sixth coach to reach a title game in his first season. Michigan's Steve Fisher (1989) remains the only coach to win it all in his first year.
UNC entered March Madness with 100-1 odds of winning the title and were four-point underdogs to the Jayhawks entering Monday's showdown.
He may not have been 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 featured two head coaches who succeeded the same coach. Self took over for Williams in 2003 and Davis succeeded him in 2021.
Here's what went down during a thrilling national championship matchup:
KU storms back, hangs on and wins it all
How about that for a national championship game?
Kansas has won a fourth national title because the Jayhawks never stopped fighting, even after trailing North Carolina by 15 at halftime. David McCormack and Jalen Wilson each scored 15 for the champions in a 72-69 victory.
Bill Self's team came out in the second half and put together another one of its patented runs. What had been a 40-25 margin in favor of the Tar Heels was already a 50-50 tie a little more than nine minutes into the second half.
Then the Heels counter-punched, and, of all players, it was Puff Johnson coming off the bench to lead the way. The 6-foot-8 sophomore hit a tough corner 3 and then drew a charge on Agbaji at the other end of the floor. Johnson finished the evening with 11 points in 18 valuable minutes.
Johnson's contributions were all the more essential because of Caleb Love's struggles. Love appeared to be hobbled by an injury in the first half, and he was unable to follow-up on his magnificent second half against Duke. The sophomore required 24 shots to put 13 points on the board, as Brady Manek and Armando Bacot were leading the way for UNC with 15 points apiece.
Ultimately, the game came down to Kansas making shots and getting stops. With 3:06 remaining, Manek tied the game at 65 with two free throws. Remy Martin then lifted the Jayhawks with what may have been the shot of the night, a contested 3 that nevertheless found the bottom of the net.
From that point on KU never trailed, as McCormack scored twice from the lane. North Carolina had a final chance with a sideline inbounds play down three with four seconds on the clock, but Love's 3 was off the mark.
Kansas is your 2022 national champion after overcoming the largest halftime deficit in national title game history. These Jayhawks never quit, and it won them a championship. -- John Gasaway
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.
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 usual pic.twitter.com/btU6cXxWkv— Kansas Men's Basketball (@KUHoops) April 5, 2022
The Truth remains true
In the Jayhawks he trusts. Paul Pierce is in the building representing for his alma mater.
THE TRUTH. You love to see it. pic.twitter.com/MB1zCXNPEU— Kansas Men's Basketball (@KUHoops) April 5, 2022
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.