Over the past two nights, the college basketball season has come to a climactic finish for the men and women. Kansas won the men’s title and South Carolina won the women’s, both in historic fashion. These games were spectacular contests and brought a fitting end to the madness of March.
Kansas was favored to win this game, yet somehow still fell to a deficit of 16 points at one point in the game. Their outrageous comeback was the most of any team in a
championship game since 1963. Trailing 40-25 at the half, the Jayhawks shocked the world with their next 20 minutes of play.
A dunk by star David McCormack, sparked the Jayhawks on a 20-6 run to bring the
score to 46-45 with more than 12 minutes remaining. This offensive explosion to begin the half more than brought the Jayhawks back, it also changed the momentum of the game.
Late down the stretch, both teams fought hard, but UNC could not keep up. After
Amando Bacot of UNC sustained another injury to a previously rolled ankle, Kansas’
McCormack sealed the game with two clutch shots. And, he gave Kansas its first
championship since 2008.
In the women’s championship, the title game featured South Carolina and UCONN. One of the major stories of the game was the tame performance of Paige Beuckers. As one of the greatest players in women’s college basketball, it was shocking that she was held to only 14 points on less than 50% shooting. She was effectively shut down by South Carolina’s Destanni Henderson, who also led the game in scoring with a career-high 26 points.
Henderson was given the task of covering one of the best scorers in the sport and
shined in her opportunity. She delivered the biggest performance of her career on the
biggest stage possible, and she helped her team solidify their names in history.
This team was only the 12th ever, to last an entire season ranked as number one in the nation, the 8th ever to win multiple national championships, and also became the first ever to defeat UCONN in a national championship game. But, almost most impressive of all, head coach Dawn Staley became the first black head coach in NCAA Division 1 history, men’s or women’s, to win multiple national championships. This was certainly a season that will be remembered.
However, this game made other marks in television history. This game was the
most-viewed women’s championship game since 2004, with 4.85 million viewers on
ESPN’s networks. In addition, this game also attracted more viewers than all but 10
college bowl games this past season. The game did more than expected, despite airing simultaneously with the Grammy Award show.