Saturday night’s Duke-North Carolina game lived up to the hype.
In the final game for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, No. 8 seed North Carolina eliminated No. 2 seed Duke, 81-77, marking the end of a remarkable career for Coach K.
Four players scored in double figures for North Carolina, led by Caleb Love (28 points), who made a critical 3-pointer late and big free throws down the stretch.
There were 18 lead changes in the game, which was tied 12 times.
Ironically, North Carolina handed Coach K his first loss and his last loss, plus a loss in his last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Tar Heels (29-9) will play Kansas tonight for the national title.
In the first national semifinal on Saturday, the No. 1 seed Jayhawks (33-6) defeated No. 2 seed Villanova, 81-65, behind 54.2 percent shooting behind the arc.
David McCormack led Kansas with 25 points, followed by Ochai Agbaji (6-for-7 behind the arc) with 21 points.
The Wildcats (30-8) also made 13 3s but shot just 38.6 percent overall from the floor for the game.
It was a true Final Four on Saturday.
Now we have another epic game on Monday night in New Orleans at 9:20 p.m. (EST) for the national title.
The numbers tell the story of these two storied ‘blue blood’ programs.
Carolina is playing in the national championship game for the 12th time (second all-time behind UCLA). They’re also playing in the championship game for the third time in six seasons.
Carolina head coach Hubert Davis became the 10th individual to lead a team to the Final Four in his first season as a college head coach, and the first individual to reach the NCAA championship game in his first season as UNC’s head coach.
A win over Kansas would be the Tar Heels’ 14th 30-win season, and it would also give UNC its seventh national title.
Tonight marks the 10th NCAA Championship appearance for Kansas, including its third under head coach Bill Self.
Kansas enters the National Championship game as the winningest program in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history with 2,356 wins (Carolina ranks third).
Carolina is second all-time in NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.732) and the Jayhawks are fifth (.704).
This will be the 12th meeting all-time between UNC and KU, with North Carolina holding the series advantage at 6-5. The two teams last met on March 24, 2013, in the NCAA Tournament second round in Kansas City, Mo.—a 70-58 Kansas victory.
The Jayhawks are also 4-2 all-time against the Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament.
UNC defeated KU in the 1957 championship game and the 1993 semifinals, while the Jayhawks beat UNC in the semifinals in 1991 and 2008.
The Jayhawks are favored by four points in the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
A Kansas win would give the Jayhawks their sixth national title including its fourth NCAA Tournament title that would tie Kansas for the sixth-most NCAA Tournament Championships all time, behind only UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), North Carolina (6), Duke (5), and Indiana (5).
To get more high school sports news and analysis, subscribe to Mike Ridaught’s free email newsletter.