The 2022 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship is April 4 as No. 1 seed Kansas takes on No. 8 seed North Carolina. The Tar Heels won their last national championship in 2017, while the Jayhawks last won in 2008. Our sports staff gave their predictions for the title game.
I've enjoyed witnessing North Carolina's run, from defeating No. 1 seed Baylor in the second round to handing No. 2 seed Duke and its head coach Mike Krzyzewski his final loss before retirement. However, I think Kansas is better defensively and believe the Jayhawks limit the scoring of North Carolina sophomore guard Caleb Love. Kansas senior forward Ochai Agbaji scored 21 points and made 6-of-7 3-pointers in the Jayhawks 81-65 win against No. 2 seed Villanova April 2, and I think he continues his momentum against the Tar Heels.
I think Kansas head coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks earn their first National Championship since 2008. Agbaji shot 85 percent from the 3-point line in the 81-65 rout of Villanova April 2. Despite the Tar Heels having momentum after knocking out Duke and ending Krzyzewski's career, North Carolina is nursing injuries. Junior forward Armando Bacot is playing after suffering an ankle injury, and I think Kansas senior center David McCormack to succeed in attacking Bacot through the paint.
North Carolina 66-63
After Duke was unceremoniously picked off by North Carolina, I'm not looking forward to the National Championship game. I was hoping for a Duke and Kansas matchup, while watching Krzyzewski cut down the nets in his final game as a head coach — that's not happening. The Tar Heels must be given their flowers, as they've defeated Baylor, No. 4 seed UCLA, the Cinderella-story run of No. 16 seed St. Peters and ended Krzyzewski's career. Kansas has been steady but quiet through the tournament, but they won't be lifting any trophies against North Carolina. Its ridiculous to pick against North Carolina under first-year head coach Hubert Davis, who has guided the Tar Heels to 11 wins in their last 12 games.
North Carolina: 87-81
I believe the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship has the chance to be a classic. The Tar Heels overcame the hardest path to the championship out of any program, culminating with a win over Duke in the national semifinal. If senior guard Leaky Black can defend and limit Agbaji like he did with Duke freshman forward AJ Griffin, the Tar Heels win. North Carolina doesn't have a shortage of scoring, with four players averaging 14 points or more through the tournament. If Love gets hot and continues to produce in big moments, it will be difficult for Kansas to stop the Tar Heels from winning their seventh NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
I am picking Kansas in a high-scoring shootout to give Bill Self and the Jayhawks their first national championship victory since 2008. They are coming off of an 81-65 rout of Villanova and have a high-power offense that looks unstoppable. Yes, North Carolina is riding the momentum of ending Duke's head coach Mike Krzyzewski's career, but I don't think they will be able to carry that into a game against one of the country's top powerhouses. Kansas' McCormack will match up well against Bacot who might not be 100 percent after suffering an injury in the game against Duke. I think this game will come down to the last shot, but ultimately, give me Kansas in crunch time.
North Carolina: 88-83
I'm picking the Tar Heels to claim their seventh NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship in program history behind Love, who is averaging 20 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. Although he retired after the 2021 season, I believe former North Carolina head coach Roy Williams’s presence from the stands will help guide the Tar Heels. Davis has done a phenomenal job during the NCAA tournament and will cap it off by out coaching Kansas’s head coach Bill Self.
After all the drama and flash of the NCAA Tournament, the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship comes down to two of the biggest blue bloods of all time. North Carolina has the chance to become the second No. 8 seed in NCAA Tournament history to win it all behind Love, junior forward Armando Bacot and senior forward Brady Manek. The Tar Heels lack depth and Kansas, who has played well throughout the tournament, could expose North Carolina's short rotation behind Agbaji, senior guard Remy Martin and junior guard Christian Braun. The game remains close, but the Jayhawks weapons prove to be too much for the Tar Heels.
The Jayhawks and Tar Heels tipoff at 9:20 p.m.