This Day in NC History: Championship No. 1 for Dean Smith

An Associated Press image Dean Smith (right) with then-freshman Michael Jordan (left) and two other members of the 1982 UNC basketball team.

An Associated Press image
Dean Smith (right) with then-freshman Michael Jordan (left) and two other members of the 1982 UNC basketball team.

On March 29, 1982, UNC basketball Coach Dean Smith and his Tar Heels won the school’s first national title since 1957. The Tar Heels took on the Georgetown University Bulldogs in New Orleans in the final game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament that year.

Expectations for the Tar Heels were high since the team lost in the NCAA championship game the previous year. The star power of the 1982 UNC team also raised the hopes of fans with key players Sam Perkins and James Worthy returning from the previous season and being joined by freshman guard Michael Jordan.

The game was close the entire time. The team in the lead was never ahead by more than a few points, with both teams going back and forth the whole night. With 32 seconds left in the game, the Tar Heels were behind. Smith called for a time out, and whatever was said in huddle seemed to work, because when the Tar Heels took the court again Jordan took a jump shot giving them the lead and the win at 63 to 52.

Smith coached the UNC Tar Heels for a total of 36 seasons and took the team to the NCAA tournament 25 times; he earned one more national championship title in 1993 and 17 ACC titles.

Smith died Feb. 7, 2015, at the age of 83.

This Day in North Carolina History is a production of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources.

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, Sports

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