By: JOSEPH SIMILE / SPORTS CO-EDITOR
The Kansas Jayhawks defeated the UNC Tar Heels in an absolute nail-biter in the National Championship game on April 4, with a final score of 72-69.
Kansas had a treacherous first half, missing multiple layups, fouling jump shooters, and a multitude of turnovers. UNC took advantage, taking a 40-25 lead going into halftime. UNC big Armando Bacon had a double double in the first half.
The Jayhawks came out firing in the second half, quickly attacking UNC’s defense to take a 46-45 lead.
Sixth man Remy Martin hit two big threes down the stretch in the second half for the Jayhawks. Senior forward David McCormack scored the last two baskets for the Jayhawks, leading them to bring Kansas their fourth national title.
The championship game was not without controversy, however. as Armando Bacot was injured due to a loose floorboard.
UNC guard Caleb Love also tweaked his ankle in a similar spot, and fellow UNC big Brady Manek slipped in the same spot late in the game.
One of the biggest stories of the tournament was Saint Peter’s, a small catholic school home to 3,000 students.
The Saint Peter’s Peacocks shocked the world in the first round by upsetting the #2 seeded Kentucky 85-79 in an overtime bout for the ages. They continued this hot streak, beating Murray State 70-60, and #3 seed Purdue 67-64.
The team was ultimately defeated by UNC in the Elite Eight. Saint Peter’s hero was junior guard Doug Edert, who’s big time shot making and clutch play led to him signing NIL deals with Buffalo Wild Wings and launching merchandise with Barstool.
Edert, along with fellow Saint Peter’s stars Daryl Banks and Matthew Lee have all answered the transfer portal. Fans are speculating Edert will follow Saint Peter’s Head Coach Shaheen Holloway to Seton Hall, where he recently signed a multi-year deal.
Other major first round upsets include #12 Richmond over #5 Iowa, #11 Iowa State over #6 LSU, #10 Miami over #7 USC, #11 Michigan over #6 Colorado State, #12 New Mexico State over #5 Uconn, and #11 Notre Dame over #6 Alabama.
The Sweet Sixteen had perhaps the two biggest upsets, with #4 Arkansas overcoming #1 Gonzaga. #1 Arizona was also bested by #5 Houston. The Gonzaga game was also met with controversy, as star and potential #1 pick Chet Holmgren was met with three foul calls that resulted in his ejection from the game.
The All-Tournament Team featured UNC star duo Armando Bacot and Caleb Love, potential top three pick Paolo Banchero of Duke, and Kansas forward David McCormack was joined by teammate Ochai Agbaji.
Agbaji won Most Outstanding Player, averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game in the tournament, including a 21 point outing against Villanova in the Final Four. Agbaji’s clutch shotmaking was essential in Kansas’ run to the championship.
This year's men's NCAA tournament was one for the ages, with many great upsets and storylines.
It was also the last of Duke’s Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s storied career. Coach K has been coaching Division 1 basketball for 46 years. Starting off with Army in 1976, after five years he was hired at Duke, and has been the Blue Devils head coach ever since. In his legendary career, he has accumulated 1,438 wins, leading to 36 tournament bids, 13 Final Fours, and five NCAA National Championships, in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015.