A historic come-from-behind win by the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Championship game gives the program their fourth title in school history. Down 15 points at the half, the Jayhawks stormed back to defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels, 72-69, Monday night.
The Tar Heels led 40-25 at halftime and head coach Bill Self headed into the locker room looking to calm his team down. During the lengthy halftime break, Self reflected on the 2008 season, where Kansas won the title; his first as head coach. In that year, Kansas overcame a tough task as well; with two minutes remaining, Kansas was down nine points. Fortunately, the Jayhawks defeated Memphis 75-68 in overtime.
Here is Self challenging his team at halftime:
Coming out of the half, the Jayhawks went on an 18-6 run to cut the Tar Heels’ lead. Eventually, they pulled ahead 63-61 with five minutes before the final buzzer. From there, North Carolina could not muster enough offense down the stretch to recapture the lead.
Also, being over a decade removed from their last championship title, Self said the program deserved to win this one.
What’s Next for the Jayhawks?
As a team, Kansas displayed a balanced scoring attack with five players scoring in double figures. David McCormack and Jalen Wilson lead the way with 15 points apiece while Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun added 12 each.
Next season will look very different for the reigning defending champs. Expect Kansas to retool and reload. Six players are expected to depart from the program including Braun, McCormack and Agbaji. In recent mock drafts, Agbaji could be a lottery pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The senior guard averaged nearly 19 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Agbaji topped off his impressive senior season by winning the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award.
Even with the departures, the Jayhawks look to be in good shape. As it stands, according to Sports Illustrated, Kansas is ranked No.4 in the Way Too Early Top-25 list for the 2022-23 season. This stems from a highly anticipated recruiting class next season. The Jayhawks expect to roll in three five-star prospects making the possibility of repeating next season not too far-fetched.
Bill Self has been on the NBA’s radar for years. He coached Joel Embiid. Kansas in midst of NCAA investigation right now.
If I was Philadelphia, Self would be on my short list of candidates.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) August 25, 2020
Trouble Still Looms in Paradise
A second title under Self does not get Kansas out of the woods from NCAA sanctions. NCAA president Mark Emmert charged the two-time championship-winning coach with five Level 1 violations surrounding recruiting. Self and others were accused of providing financial funds to prospects in 2017.
The players associated with receiving payments are no longer in the program. However, former recruiting bagmen for Kansas are serving time in federal prison after enticing recruits to play under Self.
To some, a conclusion to the NCAA investigation is taking longer than usual. But, whether or not president Emmert will lay hash punishment on the Jayhawks program remains a question mark. However, for now, Self, his team, and Jayhawks fans can savor this championship as they head back to Lawrence.