But without Bacot in the game, Kansas, nursing a 70-69 lead, went right to McCormack, its 6-foot-10, 250-pound center, who muscled his way past Manek to put the Jayhawks ahead, 72-69.
Bill Self became the first Kansas coach to win more than one title, distinguishing himself among some of the game’s most renowned leaders, from James Naismith — who is credited with inventing the game — to Phog Allen, whom the Allen Fieldhouse is named after, and Larry Brown, who is the only coach to win both N.C.A.A. and N.B.A. championships.
“To win when your team had to fight and come back makes this one off the charts,” Self said. “I thought this one would be good and it’s a lot better than I thought it would be.”
Whether Kansas will be able to defend its crown is less certain. The N.C.A.A.’s glacial judicial process may be nearing a final verdict in a case stemming from a federal bribery scandal, from which five Level 1 allegations have been levied against Self’s program.
Oklahoma State was barred from last year’s tournament and Arizona, Louisville and Auburn levied self-imposed bans in the fallout from the same scandal. None of them were charged with violations as serious as Kansas has been.
Those questions, though, are for another day.
On Monday night, there was another scintillating ending to a Final Four under the Superdome roof. Often that has been a blessing for North Carolina, which won here in 1982 when Michael Jordan sank a jumper from the wing, and again in 1993, when Michigan’s Chris Webber called a timeout he did not have to seal a Tar Heels victory.
The Tar Heels, who survived an epic battle with Duke on Saturday, sending their rival’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, into retirement, seemed set up for another celebration when they bounced back from an early deficit and threatened to run Kansas off the court. North Carolina bolted to a 38-22 lead with Bacot saddling the Jayhawks’ two primary post players, McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot, with foul trouble.