You may have seen it all over Twitter on Saturday night, but as the Duke/UNC Final Four game got closer and closer to the end, more and more people just couldn’t contain themselves with how freaking awesome the game was. Two arch-rivals trading haymakers for the entire second half. Lead changes galore. Key players getting hurt but then returning to the game. Future NBA Draft picks littering the floor on both sides. Shots that required the largest of onions to attempt, let alone make. A legendary coach losing his final game to the team he surely wanted to beat the most.
The second semifinal of the night had it all.
Armando Bacot just gave the quote of the night when asked about his injury.— Josh Graham (@JoshGrahamRadio) April 3, 2022
“I thought 100 percent I was out for the rest of the game … and then something hit me like ‘I’m in the greatest college basketball game of all time.’ So I just had to thug it out.” pic.twitter.com/8CFCff4FKx
That’s not to say that Kansas/Villanova wasn’t an interesting game too, it was just more interesting in the sense that the Jayhawks, outside of a couple of small Nova runs, completely and utterly dominated one of the best teams in the country and not interesting in the sense of “oh, we’re watching one of the best games in NCAA Tournament history.”
All of that sets up Monday night’s final, which is being called a Battle for Roy Williams’ Soul in my house, between the Kansas Jayhawks and North Carolina Tar Heels. While most normal people cheer for upsets during the tourney, there is a sick little voice in the back of our heads that wants those upsets but...when it comes to the finals give us the best of the best.
Historically, and this season, Kansas has been one of the best teams in the nation. UNC took a while to find their footing under first-year head coach Hubert Davis but they are now clicking on all cylinders and look every part of a team that should be playing on the final day of the season.
If we get a game on Monday night that is even half as good as the Duke/UNC semifinal, my friend, we are in for a treat.
How to watch/listen to Kansas vs. UNC
TV: TBS, 8:20 p.m. CT, Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson
Streaming: March Madness app; March Madness Live
Radio/Satellite: Westwood One, Kevin Kugler, Clark Kellogg, PJ Carlesimo
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Caesar’s Superdome, New Orleans, La.
KenPom Kansas win percentage: 69%
Torvik Kansas win percentage: 70%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Kansas appears in its tenth NCAA Championship all-time, including its third under head coach Bill Self. With the 81-65 win over Villanova, Kansas has 13 Final Four wins, which is the fifth most all-time.
- The 2022 Final Four is Carolina’s 21st, most in NCAA history.
- Carolina is playing in the national championship game for the 12th time (second most all-time behind UCLA’s 13). This is also the Tar Heels’ third time in the title game in the last six seasons.
- A win for the Jayhawks would make KU 4-6 in the NCAA Tournament National Championship game and put them in a tie for sixth most titles all-time.
- UNC is 6-5 in NCAA title games, including 2-0 in the Superdome.
- Carolina and Kansas are playing in the Final Four for the fifth time, two more than any other matchup in Final Four history (Duke-Kansas, UCLA-Louisville and UNC-Michigan State have all played three times in the Final Four).
- Head coach Bill Self has coached 54 NCAA tournament wins, which is the fifth most all-time. Self’s 75 NCAA tournament games breaks a tie for fifth all-time with Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo.
- With a win, UNC’s head coach Hubert Davis would become the first individual to lead his team to a national championship in his first full season as a head coach (Michigan’s Steve Fisher was the head coach for the six NCAA Tournament games in 1989).
- The Jayhawks and Tar Heels meet for the 12th time in the series history with North Carolina holding the series advantage at 6-5.
- The two teams have met six times in the NCAA Tournament, with Kansas 4-2 in those games. Head coach Bill Self is 4-1 against North Carolina in his career, including 3-0 at Kansas, with each of them coming in the NCAA Tournament.
- UNC defeated KU in the 1957 championship game and the 1993 semifinals; the Jayhawks beat UNC in the semifinals in 1991 and 2008.
- Kansas has outrebounded its opponent 28 times this season and the Jayhawks are 28-0 in those games.
- Entering the NCAA Tournament title game, Kansas owns a 10-game win streak, Kansas’ first double-digit win streak since closing the 2020 season with 16-straight wins.
- Kansas and Carolina rank first and third, respectively, in all-time wins.
- Carolina is second all-time in NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.732) and the Jayhawks are fifth (.704).
- There are too many Kansas and Carolina connections to list here, but you should probably remember that Dean Smith played at KU, winning a national title in 1952, before winning 879 games (and two more national titles) as head coach at UNC and Roy Williams won 418 games (four Final Four appearances) in 15 years at KU and then won 485 games (and three national titles) at UNC.
- Armando Bacot leads Carolina in scoring (16.3), rebounding (13.1), field goal percentage (.579) and blocks (64). He also led UNC in those categories last season. No Tar Heel has ever led in those four categories in consecutive seasons and no other Tar Heel has ever reached all four of those numbers in one season.
- If Bacot gets a double-double in the title game, his 31st of the year, he’ll tie David Robinson (Navy) for most double-doubles in a season in NCAA history. He already holds the ACC and UNC single-season records.
Potential starting lineups
- Christian Braun, 6-foot-7, junior, guard, No. 2
- Dajuan Harris, Jr., 6-foot-1, redshirt sophomore, guard, No. 3
- Jalen Wilson, 6-foot-8, redshirt sophomore, forward, No. 10
- Ochai Agbaji, 6-foot-5, senior, guard, No. 30
- David McCormack, 6-foot-10, senior, forward, No. 33
- Leaky Black, 6-foot-8, senior, forward, No. 1
- Caleb Love, 6-foot-4, sophomore, guard, No. 2
- RJ Davis, 6-foot, sophomore, guard, No. 4
- Armando Bacot, 6-foot-10, junior, forward, No. 5
- Brady Manek, 6-foot-9, super senior, forward, No. 45