New Orleans — Of all the motivating factors that led the 2021-22 Kansas men’s basketball team to the top of the college basketball world on Monday night, avenging the lost opportunity in 2020 sat near the top of the list.
Throughout the week leading up to the Final Four — and, really, the entire NCAA Tournament — several Jayhawks emphasized how their run through this year’s postseason was as much about winning for their former teammates who did not get the opportunity to do what the Jayhawks did on Monday night.
View a gallery of images from the 2022 National Championship game between the Kansas Jayhawks and North Carolina Tar Heels at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
“To me, this was partially won for them, too,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after the Jayhawks’ 72-69 win over North Carolina in the national title game at Caesars Superdome.
Point guard Devon Dotson, one of the key pieces of that 2019-20 team that missed out on its chance to win a title because of the pandemic was in the building on Monday night. Moments after the final horn sounded and the confetti started raining down, Self walked over to him in the seats behind the Kansas bench and handed him a championship hat.
From there, Dotson joined some of his former teammates in the celebration, even joining them in the locker room after the win to soak up the experience. Asked if he felt like Monday’s win avenged the lost opportunity in 2020, Dotson smiled.
“We did,” said Dotson, who led the 2019-20 team to a 28-3 record and the brink of entering the postseason as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. “I’m so excited. I’ve been excited all week, all month. This is great to see.”
Eight members of the current Kansas roster played with Dotson in 2020 and seeing guys like Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Jalen Wilson, Christian Braun and Mitch Lightfoot contribute to KU winning a title had Dotson over-the-moon excited.
“Me and Ochai and Dave, we literally started our college journey together,” he said outside of the KU locker room. “And just seeing all the hard work and all the years put together come to this moment, it’s great to see. It’s a lot of emotions. We could’ve had two championships in three years. But this is special.”
While the current crew had plenty to be emotional about in the aftermath of Monday’s victory, none of them lost sight of how much this meant for guys like Dotson, Marcus Garrett, Udoka Azubuike and Isaiah Moss.
“Everybody that was on that team likely deserves a ring,” McCormack said after earning all-tournament honors. “We got it for them this year.”
According to Turner Sports, KU’s 72-69 win over North Carolina on Monday night was the most-viewed NCAA championship game in cable TV history, drawing 18.1 million viewers, an increase of 4% over last year’s title game between Baylor and Gonzaga.
Beyond that, the KU-UNC game was the third most-watched college basketball game of any kind in the history of cable TV and also drew a record 1.6 million concurrent streamers on the NCAA March Madness Live app.
That streaming record broke the previous mark set during the Carolina-Duke game just two days earlier.