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USATSI

When Brady Manek buried a 3-pointer to put North Carolina ahead by 25 points with 10:49 remaining in regulation Saturday, Baylor's quest to become a repeat national champion seemed more than over. Forty-one seconds later, Manek was ejected. And what transpired next was one of the wildest, craziest and dumbest 10 minutes and eight seconds of basketball you'll ever see. A totally lopsided game was somehow flipped into an all-time second-round thriller filled with big shots and bad shots, reasonable calls and outrageous calls, and enough goofiness to last a lifetime.

Final score: UNC 93, Baylor 86 in overtime.

How did that game get to overtime?

"You're up 25. You go to overtime. How's your blood pressure doing," sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked North Carolina coach Hubert Davis in his postgame interview broadcast live on CBS.

"It's doing pretty good," Davis replied with a smile. "I'm so proud of these guys because we've been in this situation before all season, and they've come through. This is a group of toughness, resiliency. And I'm so proud of them. One of the things I desperately wanted for them, I wanted for them to have their own testimonies, their own stories, their own memories of putting on that Carolina uniform and coming up big in big-time moments and big-time games. As a coach, that makes me so proud to be able to see the smiles on these faces and see these guys step up. It is all because of them. And I'm so proud of them."

Full disclosure: When UNC led by 25 with 10:08 remaining, I started working on a column about Baylor's attempt to become the first back-to-back national champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007 coming to an end. The Bears had scored a total of 42 points in the first 29 minutes and 52 seconds. So even if they shutout North Carolina the rest of the way (which they were never going to do), they'd have to score 25 points in the final 10 minutes and eight seconds (which they seemed unlikely to do) just to pull even.

Incredibly, Baylor actually scored 38 points in the final 10:08.

UNC only scored 13.

Yes, Baylor took advantage of a North Carolina team reeling from the (very questionable) ejection of Manek -- who had a game-high 26 points when he was given a Flagrant 2 foul because of an elbow to Jeremy Sochan's head -- and outscored the Tar Heels 38-13 down the stretch to force one of the more improbable overtimes in NCAA Tournament history. There are intelligent people who do not think momentum is a real thing; I'm not interested in arguing with them. But if you're somebody who does believe in the concept of momentum, you were probably certain that Baylor had it heading into the extra period.

Naturally, UNC scored the first four points of OT, never trailed in OT, won the game and exhaled -- and give Davis, a first-year head coach, a lot of credit. A month ago, his Tar Heels were coming off of a loss to Pitt, ranked a season-low 49th at KenPom.com and on the wrong side of the bubble. Since then, North Carolina is 8-1 with wins over Baylor, Duke, Marquette and Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels are headed to the Sweet 16.

As for Baylor, I'll just say this: Earlier in the week, for a segment on CBS Sports HQ, I was asked to send a list of schools I thought had a legitimate chance to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament. 

My list included 11 teams.

Baylor was not on it.

Understandably, I was asked why I didn't believe the reigning national champion -- and the No. 1 seed in the East Regional -- could win it all. My answer was rooted in something I'd been saying for weeks -- that the Bears losing their leading scorer (LJ Cryer) to a foot injury and another important rotation player (Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua) to a knee injury would eventually prove too much to overcome.

Now here we are.

But let me be clear: Baylor sharing the Big 12 regular-season title with Kansas and getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year after losing four starters from last season's team and a key recruit (Langston Love), the leading scorer (Cryer) and another rotation player (Tchamwa Tchatchoua) from this season's team is a remarkable achievement regardless of how things ended. If I had to submit a ballot for national coach of the year right now, Scott Drew would be no lower than second on that ballot.

Anyway ...

Back to the game.

Further evidence that UNC-Baylor was wild is the fact that a No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed despite turning the ball over 21 times. That's not usually a recipe for an upset. But almost nothing about this roller-coaster ride that got Saturday's second-round underway made sense. So just add that to the list.

Was it the prettiest game ever? No. Was it the best officiated game ever? Hell no! But it was exciting and thrilling and a reminder that March is filled with madness that comes in all forms. This 68-team tournament delivers incredible things each and every year. Lucky us, we've still got two more weeks of it left.