NEW ORLEANS — Kansas, the nation’s No.1 hit in mid-March, had its national championship hopes dashed by the pandemic that swept the NCAA tournament two years ago, an invincible foe.
With a long history of NCAA tournament disappointments, the perpetually serpentine Jayhawks overcame those regrets Monday night by rebounding from a 16-point deficit to return North Carolina 72-69 in front of a crowd of nearly 70,000 at the Superdome. .
David McCormack, whose career reflects the ups and downs of the Jayhawks’ tournament fortunes, scored a forward following his own kick and then played on an injured right ankle after Armando Bacot. Injured upon hitting the basket – McCormack re-scored to put Kansas a 72-69 lead.
Kansas then had to survive Caleb Love and Puff Johnson’s three-pointers—and give North Carolina one last chance after a turnover—one more hit from clutch marksman Love, which didn’t come close.
When the bell rang, confetti began to fall from the roof, while the Jayhawks attacked the courthouse as McCormack ran to shout at the Kansas radio broadcaster.
The victory marked the Jayhawks’ first title since 2008 as they smashed Memphis in overtime—sent there by Mario Chalmers’ final 3-pointer, a shot that lives on in the school’s rich basketball lore. It is also the fifth consecutive tournament where the #1 seed has won the crown.