Kansas vs. North Carolina: Who has position-by-position edge in 2022 NCAA basketball championship game?

Monday’s national championship game between No. 1 seed Kansas and No. 8 seed North Carolina is a battle between two of college basketball’s historic powers. The Jayhawks and Tar Heels own a combined nine national titles and are two incumbent members of the sport’s elite class, commonly known as blue bloods.

Former Kansas coach James Naismith is one of the founding fathers of basketball, and a legendary series of coaches have come through both programs since Naismith’s career with the Jayhawks ended more than a century ago. The historical significance of two schools like this meeting at the national championship is obvious and provides a great backdrop for what will happen on the court inside Caesars Superdome in New Orleans on Monday night.

But ultimately, the history and tradition of the last few decades will be irrelevant when the ball tips. All the heroes from years past won’t be able to help the Tar Heels or Jayhawks on Monday night. Instead, it will be the likes of Dajuan Harris and Leaky Black who will fight to carve their own names into college basketball lore.

So, as kick-off approaches, let’s take a position-by-position look at the Kansas vs. North Carolina matchup and see who might have an advantage in the 2022 national title game.

A

Dajuan Harris (Kansas) vs. RJ Davis (UNC)

Both Harris and Davis are on the small end, and neither stands out as the alpha guy often seen in point guards on big teams. However, each of them has been fundamental to the success of their teams. Davis scored 30 points in a second-round victory over No. 1 seed Baylor and had 18 in Saturday’s Final Four victory over Duke. Harris isn’t asked to carry a big offensive load for the Jayhawks, but his 3-for-5 mark from 3-point range against Villanova in the Final Four was a big boost in helping KU keep the Wildcats at bay. . Ultimately, Davis’s offensive capabilities set him apart in this matchup. Border: UNC

Two

Ochai Agbaji (Kansas) vs. Caleb Love (North Carolina)

Love could easily be considered the “chosen one” for UNC considering how often he has the basketball in his hands and the fact that he and Davis have nearly identical assist numbers. But he is 4 inches taller than Davis and plays a standout offensive role that makes comparing him to Agbaji a natural exercise. However, being compared to Agbaji is a tall order for anyone, even a player like Love, who just put in a legendary performance against Duke. There’s no question that Love’s evolution into a star has propelled UNC to this point. But Agbaji’s experience, consistency and 8-for-9 mark from 3-point range in the past two games give him the upper hand in a comparison of the biggest backcourt players. Border: Kansas

Three

Leaky Black (North Carolina) vs. Christian Braun (Kansas)

Black is like UNC’s version of Harris in that he doesn’t score much but has cemented a role because of his success with intangibles. He’s the Tar Heels’ best perimeter defender, which certainly counts for something, and you can always count on him for rush plays. But Braun showed with a pair of dagger 3-pointers in the final minutes against Villanova that he has the swagger and the offensive game to be a key factor in a championship run. So while Black is a solid role player, Braun is an elite role player with the offensive game to make a difference. Braun could become a superstar next season after Agbaji leaves for the NBA, and we may get a preview on Monday. Border: Kansas

four

Brady Manek (North Carolina) vs. Jalen Wilson (Kansas)

These players bring very different strengths to the table, making the matchup a wash. Manek has taken his killer 3-point shooting ability as a power forward to the next level during the NCAA Tournament. He makes hotly contested looks from the corner look like layups. So in terms of shooting from the outside, he has an advantage over Wilson. But Wilson’s versatility and comfort running the floor make up for the deficiency in perimeter shooting. Wilson is also enough of an outside threat to keep the UNC defense from weakening, and he has the chops to beat opponents off the dribble. He highlights his general versatility, especially in defense. Edge: Even

Five

Armando Bacot (North Carolina) vs. David McCormack (Kansas)

David McCormack in his prime is very capable of bruising Bacot and denying UNC’s lead under the basket. Fortunately for Kansas, McCormack has been at his best the past two games and is starting a season-high 25-point outing against Villanova. But McCormack at his worst could be eaten alive by Bacot, who is much more consistent in his rebounding and scoring contributions than McCormack. Bacot has an absurd 43 rebounds in the last two games, and he will be a nuisance to the Jayhawks. Border: UNC

Work table

Remy Martin and Mitch Lightfoot (Kansas) vs. Puff Johnson and Dontrez Styles (UNC)

UNC holders are known as the “iron five” for a reason. The reason is that the Tar Heels don’t dig deep into their bench. With 6-11 second-year forward Dawson Garcia sidelined due to family medical concerns, the Tar Heels are particularly thin in the post behind Bacot. Kansas, by contrast, brings one of its best players off the bench in graduated transfer guard Remy Martin. The former Arizona State star played a limited role for KU during the Big 12 slate, but he is an elite shotmaker and offensive spark for the Jayhawks. With veteran great Mitch Lightfoot also available to come in and give McCormack some breathing room under the basket, the Jayhawks have a nice depth advantage in this matchup. Kansas coach Bill Self can go up to 10 deep if he wants. Border: Kansas

Training

Speaking of Self, he has an advantage in the trainer matchup due to experience. Now, in his fourth Final Four and his third national title game, he’s sailed these moments before, and that must be worth something. From a broader standpoint, no one in college basketball has done a better job of coaching than Davis in the second half of this season. But in a specter of 40 minutes of a game, Self’s 29 years of experience as a head coach is a trump card. Border: Kansas

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