Ochai Agbaji won college basketball’s most prestigious postseason award after Kansas defeated the University of North Carolina 72-69 to claim its third title this millennium.
The 16-point first-half deficit for Kansas was the biggest comeback ever in a national championship game.
Agbaji had 12 points and three rebounds in a game-winning effort, but many fans were surprised Bronx big man David McCormack didn’t pick up the award.
McCormack scored 15 points with 10 rebounds, including a clutch shot down the stretch that extended Kansas’ lead to three with less than a minute left.
The Jayhawks faltered slightly on the stretch and gave the Tar Heels an opportunity to even the ball game after sophomore guard Dajuan Harris Jr. went out of bounds with four seconds left.
UNC put in a hit that could have taken this game to overtime, but it slammed into the side of the rim.
Agbaji had the third-highest grip and an individual ticket rating behind Duke’s Paolo Banchero and teammate Remy Martin to win college basketball’s Most Outstanding Player.
Banchero had the most money and individual tickets from the public, but that proved moot after the Blue Devils went to the Tar Heels on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Martin had a tough match for the Elite Eight, Final Four and the National Championship after starting March Madness on an electric note. While the transfer from Arizona State had 14 points and three rebounds Monday night, that wasn’t enough to move the needle after two disappointing games against Saint Peter’s and Duke.
McCormack had gone 125-1 to win the MVP before the tournament started, but he was one of the favorites heading into the national championship game.
Although he didn’t end up winning the award, McCormack made a compelling case after posting 25, 15 and 15 points in the Elite Eight, Final Four and Championship matches, respectively.
It was his shot late in the second half Monday that sealed the deal for the Jayhawks.
For UNC, Caleb Love was the favorite to win the Most Outstanding Player award and was also out of the draw heading into the tournament. Love had been +400 heading into Monday’s game but went 5 for 24 — including 1 for 8 of three — in a losing effort.
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