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Today in Sports History: 3/29 – North Carolina Wins 1982 NCAA Tournament

Today in sports history (1982), the North Carolina Tar Heels took down the Georgetown Hoyas in the 1982 NCAA Tournament Championship Game. Two of the biggest coaches in college basketball history matched up in this game — John Thompson for Georgetown and Dean Smith for North Carolina.

The Hoyas were led by All-American Eric Floyd and seven-foot freshman Patrick Ewing. North Carolina was led by All-American James Worthy and freshman Michael Jordan. The Hoyas came into the championship as the six seed, while North Carolina came in as the one seed. North Carolina was favored by 1.5 points in this game.

Michael Jordan North Carolina Wins 1982 NCAA Tournament
Credit: Allen Dean Steele/Associated Press

North Carolina Beats Georgetown in 1982 NCAA Tournament Championship

Patrick Ewing won the tip-off against future NBA player Sam Perkins. Ewing then scored the first points of the game with a baseline jumper. Believe it or not, the first eight points that North Carolina scored were because of Ewing goaltending four times. This had come as a result of Thompson telling Ewing to not allow easy shots. Thompson told Ewing to not worry about goaltending and to just block shots.

The first basket that the Tar Heels legitimately scored was eight minutes into the game. Georgetown led 12-10 at this point. Finally, the scoring started to commence. Floyd and Worthy went back and forth, with Floyd making four straight shots, while Worthy made six in a row. This tied the game up at 22. Georgetown eventually built a one-point lead going into halftime, 32-31. From the 12-minute mark to the half, Ewing had goal-tended another Carolina shot attempt.

The second half was similar to the first, in that both teams traded baskets. The largest lead of the second half was a four-point Georgetown lead with around 12 minutes to go. Once again, the teams traded scores and the Tar Heels managed to pull within two at the seven-minute mark. North Carolina finally broke through, claiming a one-point lead with six minutes remaining. With the lead, Smith decided to run a four corners, stalling offense.

With three minutes remaining, Michael Jordan hit a jumper to extend the lead to three, 61-58. Ewing made a basket to bring it to within one. UNC’s Matt Doherty was fouled and missed his free throw on a one-and-one. Floyd hit a 12-foot jumper to give Georgetown a one-point lead with 57 seconds remaining. One of the most famous plays in basketball then occurred, when Jordan hit another jump shot to give Carolina a one-point lead with 15 seconds left. Georgetown’s Fred Brown then inexplicably threw a pass to Worthy, who was fouled and missed two free throws. Floyd’s last-second shot fell short and North Carolina picked up their second National Championship.

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