I had the pleasure of growing up as a Tar Heel. In my thirty plus years of watching Carolina basketball, I have witnessed some epic battles between the Hoosiers and Tar Heels. The game between these two schools on this upcoming Tuesday night will be another game for the ages in my opinion. Let’s review a few of the classic games between these schools.
In 1981, North Carolina and Indiana faced each other in the National Championship. Indiana beat North Carolina 63-50. Indiana was led by Isaiah Thomas, who went on to have a long, successful career in the NBA. Thomas won two NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990. North Carolina was led by James Worthy and Sam Perkins. Worthy became a future #1 Draft Pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1982 Draft. He was the starting small forward for the “Showtime” Lakers who won five NBA championships during the 1980’s. This game was also a battle between two legendary coaches in Indiana’s and UNC’s Dean Smith. Indiana won this game, and this was Isaiah Thomas’s last game as a collegiate basketball player.
In 1984, these two teams faced each other again in the NCAA Tournament. The same two coaches were at the helm for both squads. The best player on the court was North Carolina’s Michael Jordan. Similar to the 1981 game, this game resulted in a Tar Heels’ loss. The final score was 72-68. This was also Michael Jordan’s last game as a Tar Heel. The 1984 North Carolina basketball team is hailed as one of the greatest teams in Carolina basketball history. The Tar Heels finished the 1983-1984 season at 28-3. Each loss was no more than four points. I remember watching this game as an eight year old. Our home was VERY quiet this night. I also remember meeting Michael Jordan a month later in my hometown of Fayetteville at an ACC all-star classic basketball game.
Fast forward to 2005, North Carolina traveled to Bloomington, Indiana to face the Indiana Hoosiers. The major storyline for this game was UNC’s Sean May playing in his hometown. In addition, May spurned Indiana to play in Chapel Hill. By the way (BTW for all the texters), Sean’s father, Scott May, was a forward for the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1970’s. Scott May was a part of the 1976 national champions that finished with a perfect season with a 32-0 record. Raymond Felton (New York Knicks) and co. exacted revenge on Indiana winning this game, 70-63.
If the past tells us anything about this rivalry, then we can make three valid assumptions:
a) One of these teams will win the national championship
b) One of the stars on each team (IU’s Zeller or UNC’s McAdoo, perhaps) will go to the NBA after this season
c) Carolina will win this game…VENGEANCE!