NEW ORLEANS – The Kansas Jay-Hawks opened the Final Four of 2022 on Saturday night, increasing 10-0 and keeping the Wilan Wildcats at arm’s length in an 81-65 victory. Caesar’s Superdome. The win puts KU in the title on Monday night for the first time since 2012, with a chance to lift the NCAA trophy for the first time since beating Memphis in the 2008 championship.
The competition was a prelude to Saturday’s long-awaited second bout between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels – NCAA’s first meeting in a tournament between Tobacco Road rivals and a possible final act for Duke and Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski to be his last weekend. a giant college basketball career.
The ESPN team of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzel, John Gassaway and Joe Lunardi discussed what went on in Kansas on Saturday, what went wrong for Vilanova and what impact Kansas ’victory over ACC in the final on Monday night will have.
What was the key to Kansas’ victory over Vilanov?
The Eye of Agbaji and David McCormack: The Jayhawks and their X-Factor throughout the season (long career?).
Agbaji broke out of a brief slump in the second half of Elite Eight’s victory over Miami, and that momentum persisted on Saturday night. He went out the gate with a shotgun, scoring two three-pointers in the first three minutes and making a score of 4 to 4 from depth in the first eight-plus minutes. Colin Gillespie, who switched to him, slowed down Agbaji a bit until the end of the first half, but two more heavy 3s to keep Viljanov at arm’s length in the second half were huge.
McCormack was always going to be the key against Vilanova. Wildcats just didn’t have the size to handle it, so it all came down to whether he would be able to avoid trouble, stay on the floor and be effective. And it didn’t take Kansas long to declare their intentions. The Jayhawks early and often interrupted the ball at McCormack’s bar; he scored two baskets in the first two minutes and touched almost every possession. He had 13 points in the first 11 minutes. When Vilanova started creating some Kansas problems in defense by attacking McCormack with the help of smaller players, the big man in return went to work on the other end. Agbaji and McCormack finished with a total of 46 points. – Barcela
What surprised you the most in the Jayhawks performance?
If you could tell KU fans in November that the hero of their national semifinal would be McCormack, they would be more than surprised. Stunned may be the best word. There has been a lengthy debate all season about whether Jayhawks should be small. At least for one night McCormack went very hard on Vilanov. The surprise was that it started right away. The first minutes of the game were a blizzard of Agbaji 3s and message channels for McCormack, which was too much for the Wildcats to handle. Soaking the poster, scoring 25 points for shooting 10 out of 12 – all this summed up a great performance. – Gas
How does Kansas coincide with Duke and North Carolina?
Not surprisingly, the Jayhawks probably match North Carolina better than the Duke. In part, this stems from Mark Williams ’dominance in defense around the Blue Devils. He is able to neutralize McCormack on his own – and given how well McCormack has played in Kansas wins over the last couple of seasons, this will be a challenge for the Jawhacks. Duke is also vulnerable against teams that could distract Williams from the basket and force the Blue Devils to guard longer stretches in space.
As for the staff, the Jayhawks had the experience of great men at McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot to throw Armando Bacot out of North Carolina. They have Jalen Wilson, who is big and versatile enough to deal with Brady Manek at pick-and-pops, who loves to run around North Carolina. I think Tar Heels ’aggressiveness in defending on the wings with Caleb Love and Leakey Black could cause problems for Agbaji and Christian Brown. None of this means that Kansas can’t defeat Duke. It’s just a potentially tougher match than North Carolina. – Barcela
What will be the legacy of this Villanova team?
Wildcats continue to showcase the rarity of basketball skills without great football. Vilanova and Gonzaga are the only truly elite programs in this category.
The legacy of Jay Wright and the Wildcats is safe regardless of this Final Four result. In what was perhaps the most limited team of the four to reach the national semifinals, Wright did another masterful job, winning the Big East tournament and the NCAA South Regional.
Cats 2021-22 should and will be celebrated among the most beloved teams in the history of the program. And if they ever build a statue of Wright, Gillespie will join Scotty Reynolds, Ryan the Archdeacon and Jalen Branson as personal mountain coaches. “Lunardi.”
What historical impact would a victory in Kansas on Monday night have?
Bill Self has done all that could be done in Kansas, but knows that the only national championship in 2008 is not commensurate with 15 Big 12 titles and a staggering nine No. 1 numbers in the NCAA tournament. Cutting networks in New Orleans forever changes that narrative.
The list of coaches with multiple NCAA championships is short. And the fourth trophy in the Kansas program would put the Jayhawks just five other schools on the list for all time, one of which – North Carolina (6) or Duke (5) – would fall victim to them on Monday.
It says here that Jaihaki should be. They were the best team in the country two years ago when COVID-19 lost their chances of the tournament, and they may well be the best team left in 2022. “Lunardi.”