March Madness: Examining the storied history between North Carolina and UCLA
North Carolina and UCLA will meet in a battle of blue bloods on Friday night in the Sweet 16.
These two programs have met 13 times previously, with the Tar Heels winning 10 of those matchups. However, UCLA won the most important matchup between these teams — the 1968 National Championship Game.
Numerous All-Americans, Hall-of-Famers and legends at these two storied programs have had the honor of participating in this series.
Here’s a few notes about the history between North Carolina and UCLA:
National Championship rematch
Let’s start all the way back in 1968, when these two programs met for the National Championship. North Carolina was as a talented team, but it was no match for the Bruins in that game.
UCLA was led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — then known as Lew Alcindor — who scored 34 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to bring home the title. UCLA won in a runaway, 78-55.
This was the fourth championship for legendary coach John Wooden, who would go on to win 10 titles with the Bruins. This was the only time Wooden ever coached against the Tar Heels.
North Carolina shot just 34.9 percent from the floor as Larry Miller led the team in scoring with 14 points. Only Charlie Scott (12 points) joined him in scoring in double figures.
Other postseason meeting
Surprisingly, these two programs have met in March just one other time. That meeting came on March 19, 1989 — 21 years after their National Championship matchup. North Carolina won the postseason rematch, 88-81.
The No. 2-seeded Tar Heels were led by future NBA star Rick Fox, who scored 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Steve Bucknall had 19 points and 11 assists.
Current North Carolina coach Hubert Davis played in that game, registering 5 minutes. However, he missed both shots he took — both 3-pointers — and didn’t record any other statistics. This was Davis’ freshman season.
Legends of the game
This series has seen plenty of big names make an impact. Alcindor is no doubt the biggest icon (Michael Jordan missed playing the Bruins by just one season) but he’s joined by numerous other future NBA stars and champions.
Rick Fox, Reggie Miller, Kenny Smith, Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter are just a few examples of future NBA stars to play in this rivalry.
Blowouts are common
For whatever reason, North Carolina and UCLA can’t seem to play a close game. Of their previous 13 meetings, 9 were decided by 10+ points. Only one came down to a single possession — UCLA’s 71-68 win on Jan. 15, 2000.
That was the Bruins’ last win over the Tar Heels. Since then, North Carolina has won five straight matchups vs. UCLA, and all have come by double digits.
Of North Carolina’s 10 wins vs. UCLA, eight have been by double digits and four have been by 20+ points.
One notable blowout came on Nov. 27, 1997. North Carolina and UCLA were both ranked in the top-10, but the Tar Heels were loaded with NBA talent. They fielded a roster with Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood, amongst several other talented players. UNC won the game 109-68 — a staggering 41-point margin-of-victory.
Jamison and Carter went for 23 and 22 points, respectively, per the Tar Heel Times’ box score. Jamison led the team with 11 rebounds.