Congratulations to the Kansas University Jayhawks, the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions! In a tournament defined by chaos, you kept a steady hand, being the only 1-seed to make it past the Sweet 16. You had the largest comeback in the history of the championship game, winning after being down by 16 points. Well done! Enjoy this win because you’ve earned it.
Andy Katz to Bill Self postgame: “2020, you guys were supposed to be the No. 1 team, supposed to win the title that year.”
Did someone say something? No? I must be hearing things. I’ll be on my way now.
Alright, I guess this needs to be addressed. When the 2020 season was suspended and ultimately never finished because of COVID-19, Kansas was the No. 1 team in the AP poll, which means they would’ve been the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
When the season was suspended, many Kansas fans tried to claim that they had won the 2020 national championship. Fans photoshopped a 2020 championship banner into the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse. You could go online and order a KU basketball 2020 championship shirt right now. Fansided’s KU site, Through The Phog, posted an article around that time titled, “Kansas basketball deserves the 2020 national championship,” saying “Despite having their season cut short, Kansas basketball was definitely the best team in the country and they deserve the national championship.”
They may have been the best team at the end of the regular season, but that’s not how national championships are decided. You have to win a 68-team tournament called March Madness. Maybe you’ve heard of it. And as unsatisfying as it is, because there was no national championship tournament, there was no national champion.
This Kansas team earned this championship, the 2022 championship, by winning the tournament, but don’t think that that somehow, retroactively, gives them the 2020 title. Just because a handful of players were on both teams doesn’t mean that the team of two years ago would’ve survived the gauntlet.
When NCAA President Mark Emmert presented the championship trophy on that stage Monday night, he was holding one trophy. Not two. You can really tell Emmert is savoring these last few trophy presentation ceremonies in which the NCAA is still relevant. Unless of course he could somehow present a trophy so well that it’ll convince every college in the country not to leave and form their own governing body.
“Congratulations to the Kansas City Jayhawks!” Dammit Mark! You had one job. Granted, Kansas and Kansas City sound quite similar. Better reward yourself by giving yourself another raise during a pandemic year when revenues dropped 50 percent, all while insisting that college sports aren’t profitable.
Being the No. 1 overall seed hardly guarantees a championship. The last time the best overall seed won the whole thing was Louisville in 2013, but that title was later vacated, so it’s really Kentucky in 2012. That was 10 years ago. It’s actually pretty rare. THIS KANSAS TEAM was not the top overall seed.
Kansas fans, you can have the 2020 national championship, so long as the team takes that trophy that they won Monday night, covers it in bubble wrap and ships it via UPS ground to Gonzaga University, “definitely the best team in the country” at the end of the regular season.
It’s OK to feel like you were robbed of the opportunity to win. The pandemic robbed a lot of people of being able to experience milestones in their lives. That doesn’t mean that you get to claim a national championship when there was never even a tournament. Ironically, the Kansas fan that seems to understand this better than anyone is head coach Bill Self, who said of the 2020 team, “there’s no guarantee you could ever win anything in this tournament obviously, but we had a good chance.” And that much is true. They did have a good chance, which is more than most teams get, so just be happy with that.