CHAPEL HILL — The thrills of the first half were drowned in an excruciating near-miss at the Smith Center when the favored Kansas Jayhawks edged UNC to take the NCAA national title Monday night. Thousands came to the arena to watch what they hoped would be the school’s seventh championship. There was a fever pitch as fans actually arrived early for a potential crowning.
NEW ORLEANS — Two months after a rare taste of the NCAA bubble, North Carolina came so close to completing an unprecedented run to a national title. Carolina, who went from midseason struggles to playing like one of the best teams in the country, dominated Kansas in the first half but the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks stormed back to win 72–69 on Monday night in the Superdome.
On the same night that Carolina beat Duke at the Final Four, Justin Jackson had a monster G League double-double in Texas. Jackson collected 39 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes in his Texas Legends’ 106–99 home win Saturday over the Austin Spurs, their regular-season finale.
NEW ORLEANS — The tensions, the heart palpitations and anxiety just kept pulsating through fans during the last thrilling final minutes of North Carolina’s historic 81–77 victory over No. 9 Duke on Saturday night at the Superdome at the Final Four in the second national semifinal. In some of the most scintillating final minutes of a game in Carolina basketball history, the lead changed six times in the last 4:36 and the Tar Heels ended the coaching career of Mike Krzyzewski. Read and watch how the final tense minutes played out after the last television timeout.
NEW ORLEANS — To say that Brady Manek’s one-year Carolina basketball experience has wildly exceeded his expectations would be like saying his hair flows a little bit. In four seasons at Oklahoma, he never made it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. Manek had an overwhelming desire to do that and finally avoid the dreaded No. 8 vs. No. 9 first-round game that ended multiple seasons. The latter didn’t happen. But he’s helped the Tar Heels shoot past the former with a run to the Final Four and Monday night’s 9:20 matchup with a former Big 12 adversary, No. 3-ranked Kansas, in his final college game (TBS).
NEW ORLEANS — In the most historic battle in the history of sports’ greatest rivalry, North Carolina beat Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last Duke team the way his Blue Devils won so many nights — with lethal outside shooting. With that, the Tar Heels (29-9) and Coach Hubert Davis ushered in a new era in the rivalry. Davis showed that his new brand of Carolina basketball could be a national force for years after the Tar Heels made him only the fifth first-year coach to make the NCAA tournament championship game.