Bill Self became the first Kansas coach to win more than one title, distinguishing himself among some of the game’s most renowned leaders, from James Naismith — who is credited with inventing the game — to Phog Allen, whom the Allen Fieldhouse is named after, and Larry Brown, who is the only coach to win both N.C.A.A. and N.B.A. championships.
Whether Kansas will be able to defend its crown is less certain. The N.C.A.A.’s glacial judicial process may be nearing a final verdict in a case stemming from a federal bribery scandal, from which five Level 1 allegations have been levied against Self’s program.
Oklahoma State was barred from last year’s tournament and Arizona, Louisville and Auburn levied self-imposed bans in the fallout from the same scandal. None of them were charged with violations as serious as Kansas has been.
Those questions, though, are for another day.
On Monday night, there was another scintillating ending to a Final Four under the Superdome roof. Often that has been a blessing for North Carolina, which won here in 1982 when Michael Jordan sank a jumper from the wing, and again in 1993, when Michigan’s Chris Webber called a timeout he did not have to seal a Tar Heels victory.
The Tar Heels, who survived an epic battle with Duke on Saturday, sending their rival’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, into retirement, seemed set up for another celebration when they bounced back from an early deficit and threatened to run Kansas off the court. North Carolina bolted to a 38-22 lead with Bacot saddling the Jayhawks’ two primary post players, McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot, with foul trouble.
It is fair to wonder if Kansas has been sticking pins in a voodoo doll the way its opponents have been dropping. Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner injured a knee late in an overtime win over San Diego State and missed the Bluejays’ narrow loss to Kansas. Villanova guard Justin Moore tore his right Achilles’ tendon in the final seconds of a win over Houston, and his defense might have helped against Agbaji, who hit his first six 3-pointers against the Wildcats in their national semifinal.
Then Bacot tumbled to the floor late in North Carolina’s win over Duke Saturday night and had to be helped to the bench. He returned somewhat gingerly, but on Sunday proclaimed himself ready. “My status for tomorrow is ‘I’m playing,’” Bacot said, adding. “My right leg would have to be cut off for me not to play.”