Championships on the Bayou: Examining North Carolina's Final Four history in New Orleans
North Carolina will face arch rival Duke in the Final Four on Saturday night in New Orleans.
Historically, New Orleans has been very good to North Carolina. The Tar Heels have won 2 National Championships in the Big Easy — in 1982 and 1993.
That’s a pretty good rate, considering 2022 will be just the sixth time that New Orleans has hosted the Final Four.
UNC didn’t reach the Final Four in any other year where New Orleans was the host. It made the Elite Eight in 1987 and 2012 but missed the Tournament altogether in 2003.
“I have told the team that we’ve won, this program has won two championships here in this building, and there’s significance in that,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said at a press conference earlier this week.
Here’s a breakdown of UNC’s two National Championship runs on the Bayou.
1982: UNC ends Georgetown’s run
Dean Smith and the Tar Heels defeated No. 1-seeded Georgetown in the 1982 National Championship Game, clinching the second championship in program history. It was also Smith’s first title and it came more than 20 years after he was first named head coach in Chapel Hill.
UNC won the game 63-62. Future NBA icons James Worthy and Michael Jordan led the Tar Heels in scoring with 28 and 16 points, respectively.
Jordan, of course, hit the game-winning jumper with under 15 seconds remaining to seal the win.
“The play was designed for Mike to shoot the jumper,” Jimmy Black told reporters after the game. “They were in a 1-3-1 some and he should have had about a 15-foot shot after we passed it a couple of times.”
This was the first of two National Championships for Smith at North Carolina.
1993: North Carolina beats Michigan’s Fab Five
North Carolina’s famous victory over Michigan in the 1993 National Championship Game — and the Wolverines’ Fab Five — took place at the Super Dome, too.
UNC ultimately won 77-71 after an infamous timeout called by Michigan’s Chris Webber. Trailing by two in the final seconds, Webber called timeout after getting trapped in the corner. However, the Wolverines were out of timeouts. The officials called a technical foul on Michigan and UNC was given possession.
The rest is history:
Donald Williams led North Carolina with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting. George Lynch had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“Donald has played like this all year,’ Derrick Phelps said after the game. “But in the tournament he really stepped up. His biggest thing is he hits those threes when we really need them.”
2022: A colossal clash with Duke
North Carolina and Duke will have their first-ever NCAA Tournament meeting on Saturday night in New Orleans. This is arguably the most-anticipated matchup in the storied history of the Tobacco Road rivalry.
UNC coach Hubert Davis took some time this week to reflect on the Tar Heels’ success in this building.
“I remember the ’82 championship game, and me only being able to see the second half because I had a boy scout meeting and I had missed the first half. In ’93 it was a group of guys that I had played with,” Davis said at a press conference in New Orleans this week. “I remember feeling two powerful emotions, joy and happiness because they won, but also sadness because I wanted to be there.
“I had always wanted to cut down the nets and be a national champion at North Carolina, and I didn’t have that opportunity. It’s unbelievable that I had an opportunity as an assistant coach in 2017, and that’s something that I want for our players this year.”