The history between the Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tar Heels isn’t extensive, but when the two teams meet it usually means something.
On Monday night, the Jayhawks (33-6) and the Tar Heels (29-9) will meet in the Superdome in New Orleans for the 2022 NCAA national championship. Kansas is shooting for its first title since 2008. North Carolina is seeking its first title since 2017.
Monday’s game will be just the 12th time the two teams have met. In all but one meeting, at least one of the teams has been ranked nationally. That meeting was in 1959.
This game also marks the seventh time Kansas and North Carolina have met in the NCAA Tournament, but the second time the two teams have met in the national title game. Kansas is 4-2 in those NCAA meetings, dating back to 1957.
March 23, 1957: North Carolina beat Kansas, 54-53, on what amounts to the Jayhawks’ home turf — Kansas City. The Final Four was in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium, and the two blue bloods met for the first time in history. The game went three overtimes. The pair each scored two points in the first overtime, and both failed to score in the second overtime. The Tar Heels finally pulled the game out in the third overtime for their first national title. North Carolina won behind Lennie Rosenbluth’s 20 points. Kansas lost despite 23 points and 14 rebounds from Wilt Chamberlain.
March 30, 1991: Between 1957 and 1991, the Jayhawks and Tar Heels met four times in the regular season. But, in Indianapolis, Kansas beat North Carolina, 79-73, in the national semifinals. The game was billed as ‘teacher vs. pupil,’ as UNCs’ legendary coach Dean Smith went up against one of his top assistants in Kansas’ Roy Williams, who was in his third year at Kansas. Current Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis played for UNC and led the Tar Heels with 25 points. King Rice and Rick Fox each added 13 points. Adonis Jordan and Mark Randall led Kansas with 16 points, while Mike Maddox added 10 points. Kansas lost to Duke, 72-65, two nights later, as the Blue Devils won their first national title.
April 3, 1993: Two years later, the Jayhawks and the Tar Heels met again, this time in — believe it or not — New Orleans. The Tar Heels won this national semifinal meeting, 78-68. Some of the players who were on the 1991 UNC team were still with the Tar Heels, including George Lynch, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. But Donald Williams led UNC with 25 points while Eric Montross added 23 points. Adonis Jordan was still with Kansas and scored 19 points. Rex Walters also had 19 points. North Carolina went on to win the national title two nights later, beating Michigan.
April 5, 2008: Kansas fans remember how much fun it was to win that national title on the Riverwalk down in San Antonio. Along the way, Kansas beat North Carolina, 84-66, in the national semifinals. Kansas has four players in double figures — Brandon Rush with 25 points, Darnell Jackson with 12 points, Mario Chalmers with 11 points and Sherron Collins with 11 points. Wayne Ellington scored 18, Tyler Hansbrough scored 17 and Danny Green scored 15 to lead North Carolina. The Jayhawks won their first national title under head coach Bill Self two nights later, beating Memphis, 75-68.
Of course, the game was the first time Kansas met North Carolina since Roy Williams returned to Chapel Hill. He left the Kansas job after the 2002-03 season to take over for Dean Smith.
March 25, 2012: For the first time, Kansas and North Carolina met in the NCAA Tournament before the Final Four, as they collided in the Midwest Region Final in St. Louis. Kansas won the game with a brilliant second half, outscoring the Tar Heels, 33-20, en route to a 80-67 victory. Kansas had five players in double figures — Tyshawn Taylor with 22, Thomas Robinson with 18, Jeff Withey with 15, Travis Releford with 11 and Elijah Johnson with 10. James Michael McAdoo came off the bench to give UNC 15 points, while Harrison Barnes had 13, Tyler Zeller had 12 and John Henson had 10. Kansas reached the national championship game and lost to Kentucky in … New Orleans.
March 24, 2013: This marked the first time the two teams had met in back-to-back seasons since 1980-81 and 1981-82, when KU and UNC played a home-and-home series. This time, the South Region third-round game (think second-round game in present day) was on Kansas’ home turf — the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Kansas prevailed, 70-58, as the Jayhawks beat their former boss, Roy Williams, for a third straight time. Once again, a huge second half fueled Kansas, as the Jayhawks outscored the Tar Heels, 49-28. Travis Releford had 22 points, Jeff Withey had 16 points and Kevin Young had 10 points. Naadir Tharpe had 12 points off the bench. P.J. Hairston led UNC with 15 points while James Michael McAdoo had 11 points. Kansas lost to Michigan in the Sweet 16.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.