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Kansas vs. North Carolina: NCAA tournament history, Final Fours

The University of Kansas Jayhawks and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels go face-to-face tonight in the NCAA men’s finals. It won’t be their first clash.

The University of Kansas Jayhawks and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels go face-to-face in tonight’s NCAA men’s finals. It won’t be their first clash.
Porter Binks

The Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tar Heels are scheduled for a showdown tonight to fight for the NCAA men’s championship trophy.

It won't be the first time for these two schools to face each other in March Madness.

It will be hard to surpass the excitement of the nail-biter of a game between fierce rivals North Carolina and Duke in the Final Four, but the UNC-Kansas final has the makings of an incredible game, given their shared NCAA history.

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Kansas and UNC's intertwined past

The two universities are no stranger to competing against each other for the national tournament championship, and this is their fifth matchup on a Final Four/finals stage. This makes the Tar Heels vs. Jayhawks the most frequent contest in Final Four history.

The first time they went up against each other in such a setting was in the national championship game in 1957. The Tar Heels then narrowly won their first NCAA trophy 54-53 against the Jayhawks.

At the time, Kansas was led by NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain, who was hailed the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, despite playing for the runner-up team.

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The match, which went into triple overtime, has been hailed as one of the greatest tournament games in NCAA history.

Their next clash came more than three decades later when KU prevailed over UNC in the Final Four. It didn’t take long for the Tar Heels to have their revenge- they beat Kansas just two years later in the semifinal stage of March Madness 1993.

The Jayhawks turned the tables on North Carolina in their next collision, beating the Tar Heels in the 2008 Final Four.

Roy Williams: coach to KU and UNC

One connection that these two teams share is that they were both coached by Roy Williams, who has several national titles under his belt. For this reason, the game has been nicknamed the “Roy Williams Bowl” by some fans.

Now-retired Williams was the head coach of the Jayhawks from 1989 to 2002, and of the Tar Heels from 2003 to 2020.

The North Carolina Tar Heels will face the Kansas Jayhawks on Monday, April 4 at Caesars Superdome, New Orleans. Tip-off is at 9:20 p.m. ET / 6:20 p.m. PT.


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