Graphic by Christiana Mosca

No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks and the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels will come together for the final National Championship matchup Monday evening. 

The Jayhawks defeated the Villanova Wildcats handedly 81-65 to reach their first championship game since 2012. The Jayhawks jumped out to a 38-19 lead in the first half, but the Wildcats were able to make it a game. They got the deficit down to just six, but thanks to an 11 point run by the Jayhawks, Kansas advanced over Villanova, avenging their 2018 loss against them.

The Jayhawks are led by fourth-year guard Ochai Agbaji, who is projected to be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. On the season, Agbaji averaged 18.9 points per game on 47.1% shooting from the field, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.9 steals. He was terrific against Villanova, putting up 21 points along with two rebounds and one assist. Expect a big game out of him against UNC. 

Fourth-year forward David McCormack might not be the biggest name for Kansas, but he came through when it mattered most and was simply terrific against the Wildcats. In the game, he had 25 points on 10-12 shooting and nine rebounds while dominating the inside of the paint. For a guy who only averaged 10 points per game this season, he put on his best performance in large part thanks to him that Kansas advanced so easily against Villanova. Expect him to have an important impact in the championship game with his consistent shooting and rebounding.

In an all-time thriller, the University of North Carolina upset their arch-rivals, the No. 2 seeded Duke University Blue Devils, in legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game 81-77. In a game that featured 18 lead changes, UNC squeaked it out thanks to a clutch three-pointer from star second-year guard Caleb Love that clinched the upset.

Hubert Davis is in his first season as the head coach of the Tar Heels after replacing long-time coach Roy Williams, becoming only the fourth head coach ever to lead his team to a national championship game in his first year as a head coach.

Love may have hit the dagger to seal the game in the end but that was far from the only thing he contributed to the Tar Heel’s victory. In the game, he scored 28 points on 11-20 shooting and through his strong second half, he helped open the offense up and hit the shots when they mattered the most. UNC will need a big game out of him in order to win it all.

Against Duke, very few players had as big of an impact as third-year big man Armando Bacot. One of the best rebounders in all of the nation, he proved just how dominant he was on the boards, earning the most rebounds in the game with 21 rebounds along with 11 points. While he rolled his ankle with five minutes left, he still returned to the game and his performance is one of the biggest reasons why UNC is still fighting for a chance to win another title. With his ankle injury, he may not be at full strength for the championship game which undoubtedly would hurt the Tar Heels on both sides of the ball.

The championship game is tonight at 9:20 p.m. Can Kansas finally win their elusive sixth title or will UNC be able to pull off a 1984 Villanova run and be the second eighth seed to ever win a title?