Happy Tuesday, all. We have plenty to go over following a great men's championship game last night.
Let's get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Bill Self has had more talented teams in terms of players with NBA potential. He's had better offensive teams, and he's had better defensive teams. But as last night showed, this team had as much (if not more) grit and determination as any. Kansas overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat North Carolina, 72-69, and claim the program's fourth national championship. It's the largest deficit overcome in NCAA Tournament title game history.
- David McCormack and Jalen Wilson tied for the team lead with 15 points each, and McCormack scored the final four points of the game.
- Remy Martin scored 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half.
- Ochai Agbaji chipped in 12 points and was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Christian Braun also had 12.
In the second half, Kansas outscored North Carolina...
- 47-29 overall.
- 26-16 in the paint.
- and 14-2 in points off turnovers.
- Check out how Kansas made its record-setting comeback here.
In a final ode to the Jayhawks' balanced nature, they became the first team to win a title game without a single player scoring more than 15 points since NC State way back in 1983.
This is a special one for Self, too. His father died in January, and this culmination was clearly meaningful for the longtime Jayhawks' head coach. It's his second title in Lawrence, with the first coming back in 2008. This may be the crown jewel on what's already been a legendary career -- especially considering Kansas is awaiting punishment from the NCAA (via the IARP) dating back to an FBI scandal that left five Level I violations on Self and his program -- writes our college basketball scribe Matt Norlander.
- Norlander: "Would he choose to step away on top? I'm not suggesting he should. I'm not predicting he will. But if he decided to, who could blame him? ... the man has five Level I allegations against him and his program. Something catastrophic could be awaiting Kansas later this spring... At 59, he's got plenty of coaching years left in him. How will he choose to spend them?"
As for everything else on the Jayhawks...
- No one -- not even the NCAA -- can take this feeling away from Kansas.
- Where does this Kansas team rank among all of the Jayhawks' title teams?
- Kansas students took to the street to celebrate in Lawrence.
- One Shining Moment was awesome, as always.
- We got an absolute doozy of a trade Monday afternoon involving the Eagles and the Saints swapping a total of eight picks, including four first-rounders. Here are our trade grades, and here's this year's updated draft order.
- The Dodgers are on top of our Opening Day MLB Power Rankings.
And not such a good morning for...
THE NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
When the North Carolina Tar Heels left the floor at the end of the first half leading 40-25, everything they had done to get to that point was working.
- Armando Bacot, playing through injury, already had a double-double. It was his 31st of the year, tying the Division I record.
- Brady Manek splashed three 3-pointers and provided solid defense.
- R.J. Davis had 11 points while waiting for his backcourt mate, Caleb Love, to take over in the second half, as he had done before.
- North Carolina had 18 second-chance points compared to Kansas' two and owned a 27-18 rebounding advantage overall.
But in the second half, the Tar Heels couldn't assert full dominance to put the game away. Love never found that second-half magic. Bacot re-injured that right ankle on a critical late-game turnover. The 3-pointers didn't fall. The Kansas players attacked the basket relentlessly and, ultimately, made the big plays down the stretch. Battling injury and exhaustion, North Carolina ran out of gas, writes our college basketball expert Kyle Boone.
- Boone: "UNC has proudly dubbed its starting unit the 'Iron Five' – because its starters play heavy minutes and have carried it with immense strength down the stretch run of the season – but on Monday with the minutes piling on and the gas tank running close to E, it seemed to finally catch up with the eighth-seeded Tar Heels."
When the Tar Heels walked off the court for the final time last night, they did so with their heads down after coming oh-so-close. But they have nothing to be ashamed about. This was a bubble team in late February that came together and made it all the way to the title game just weeks later. It will hurt that the run came up one game short, but what a run it was.
Never-too-early Top 25 And 1 for 2022-23 🏀
Sure, the offseason is just hours old, but who doesn't love rankings?! College basketball scribe Gary Parrish already has his "never-too-early" Top 25 And 1 rankings, and there's a familiar name at the top:
- Parrish: "1. UCLA: The Bruins' ranking is based on multi-year starters Johnny Juzang, Jamie Jaquez and Tyger Cambell returning to school and being joined by a top-10 recruiting class highlighted by 5-star prospects Amari Bailey and Adem Bona. If things break that way, Mick Cronin's Bruins should have a real chance to win what would be UCLA's 12th national title."
I like this pick a lot, especially if the veteran Bruins return to Westwood. They made the Final Four in 2021, gave North Carolina one heck of a game in this year's Sweet 16 and have a terrific coach in Cronin.
Following UCLA is...
Biggest Masters storylines and sleeper picks🏌
The lead up to this year's Masters has been dominated by one major storyline: Will Tiger Woods play? He has declared himself a "game-time decision" to tee it up in an official tournament for the first time since the 2020 Masters.
If Woods does indeed play -- and indications are he probably will -- he'll certainly be the center of attention regardless of where he finishes. But there are so many great headlines outside of Woods' potential return, too, writes our golf expert Kyle Porter. In fact, one of the game's biggest stars is looking for a huge accomplishment.
- Porter: "I wrote about the career slam Rory McIlroy is attempting to achieve extensively here, but I'm amazed at how little it's being talked about going into the week. ... But I presume that a 67 in Round 1 will reheat the discussion that he could join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen as the only men to win all four major championships."
Meanwhile, Porter also has sleeper picks for this week, including...
- Porter: "1. Si Woo Kim: Last year, despite putting with his 3-wood for a portion of the tournament early on because he broke his putter, he finished T12. He's a must-add to any fantasy lineup this week for me."
UEFA Champions League quarterfinals begin today on Paramount+ ⚽
Liverpool is a heavy favorite in its tie with the Portuguese side, and our betting expert and my fellow HQ newsletter writer Tom Fornelli likes the Reds to find the back of the net plenty as part of his best bets:
- Fornelli: "In Champions League play, Benfica has allowed 11 goals in eight matches since group play, but with an expected goals (xG) allowed of 13.8, so the results have been kinder than they should've been. Benfica was overrun in two matches against Bayern and in the first match against Ajax. Do you know who plays a similar style to those teams but has even more attacking talent? Yep, it's Liverpool, and I think they'll have a good night at the office Tuesday. Pick: Liverpool Over 2.5 (+130)"
As for everything else you need to know: