How Many Times Has North Carolina Won March Madness?
Every March, the annual NCAA Division I college basketball tournaments take place, known as March Madness. One of the most successful teams in March Madness is the North Carolina Tar Heels. UNC has won the women’s tournament once and the men’s tournament six times. The remainder of this piece will talk about those seven championships in greater detail.
1994 Women’s Basketball Tournament
In 1994, North Carolina took home their first and only National Championship in women’s basketball. To start the tournament, they were the third seed in the East Region. Their first two victories were relatively easy: 101-53 over No. 14 seed Georgia Southern and 63-52 over No. 6 seed Old Dominion. In the Sweet 16, they knocked off the second-seeded Vanderbilt 73-69 and defeated the No. 1 seed UConn 81-69 in the Elite Eight. In the Final Four, they knocked off another No. 1 seed from the West Region in Purdue 89-74. Finally, in a classic championship game, the Tar Heels defeated the fourth-seed from the Mideast Region, Louisiana Tech, 60-59 for their first and only women’s basketball title.
1957 Men’s Basketball Tournament
North Carolina secured its first men’s basketball national championship in program history in 1957. In a much smaller field compared to the 68 teams that currently make up the men’s tournament, there were just 23 teams vying for the title in 1957. Additionally, the teams were not seeded as they are today. Playing in the East Region, UNC’s first game was a 90-74 victory over Yale. They then defeated New York schools in back-to-back games in Canisius (87-75) and Syracuse (67-58) to advance to the Final Four. There, they took on Michigan State from the Mideast and beat them in a close game 74-70. In the championship game, they defeated Kansas from the Midwest by a score of 54-53 for the first men’s title in program history.
1982 Men’s Basketball Tournament
A quarter of a century after their first title, UNC took home a second men’s basketball title in 1982. By this time, the field had expanded to 48 teams. Additionally, teams were now seeded 1-12 in each region. As for North Carolina, they were the No. 1 seed in the East region. They narrowly avoided an upset in their first game, beating ninth-seeded James Madison 52-50. Next, they knocked off fourth-seeded Alabama 74-69 and then third-seeded Villanova 70-60 to advance to the Final Four. There, they defeated the No. 6 seed from the Midwest in Houston 68-63. In the National Championship Game, freshman and future NBA legend Michael Jordan hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds to give UNC an iconic 63-62 victory over the No. 1 seed from the West in Georgetown.
1993 Men’s Basketball Tournament
One year prior to their women’s team winning the title, North Carolina took home their third national championship in men’s basketball in 1993. This time, the field had increased to 64 teams. UNC was the number one seed in the East Region. Their first two victories were over No. 16 seed East Carolina (85-65) and No. 8 seed Rhode Island (112-67). In the Sweet 16, they took down fourth-seeded Arkansas 80-74 and then second-seeded Cincinnati 75-68 in overtime in the Elite Eight. In the Final Four, they beat the second seed from the Midwest Region in Kansas 78-68. To finish off their championship run, the Tar Heels defeated Michigan, the No. 1 seed from the West Region, by a score of 77-71, claiming their third men’s basketball title in school history.
2005 Men’s Basketball Tournament
The Tar Heels won their fourth men’s title in program history in 2005. Once again, they were a No. 1 seed, this time in the Syracuse region. As is often the case, their first two victories were quite easy, knocking off No. 16 Oakland 96-68 and ninth-seeded Iowa State 92-65 to get to the Sweet 16. In the next two games, they avoided some close calls, knocking off fifth-seeded Villanova 67-66 and sixth-seeded Wisconsin 88-82 to make it back to the Final Four. Their next opponent was the No. 5 seed from the Austin Region, Michigan State, and UNC won rather easily 87-71. In the championship game, they took on another No. 1 seed in Illinois from the Chicago Region, and UNC came out on top 75-70 to take home their fourth title.
2009 Men’s Basketball Tournament
In their quickest turnaround between titles, UNC won their fifth men’s national championship in 2009. Playing in the South Region as the No. 1 seed, UNC was never really challenged en route to the final four. Their first two wins were against No. 16 seed Radford 101-58 and eighth-seeded LSU 84-70. In similar fashion in the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight, the Tar Heels took down fourth-seeded Gonzaga 98-77 and second-seeded Oklahoma 72-60 to reach the Final Four in Detroit. There they defeated the East’s third seed in Villanova 83-69. In the National Championship game, UNC knocked off the Midwest second seed Michigan State 89-72 for their fifth title. UNC became just the third team in history to win every game in the tournament by at least 10 points.
2017 Men’s Basketball Tournament
In 2017, UNC won its sixth and most recent national championship in men’s basketball. The Tar Heels began the event as the No. 1 seed in the South region. After destroying Texas Southern 103-64 in the first round, they held off an upset bid from eighth-seeded Arkansas 72-65 in the second round. They then defeated fourth-seeded Butler 92-80, and then knocked off second-seeded Kentucky 75-73 in a classic Elite Eight battle. In another classic, they took down the third seed from the Midwest Region in Oregon 77-76 to make it to the championship game for the second straight year. Avenging their heartbreaking loss from the year prior, UNC took down the No. 1 seed from the West region in Gonzaga 71-65 for their sixth men’s title.
When was the last time North Carolina won the National Championship in basketball?
The last time North Carolina won the men’s basketball National Championship was in 2017. That year, they defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 in the National Championship game.