From Michael Jordan’s championship-winning shot to Roy Williams becoming the only coach ever to lead two programs to four Final Fours each, North Carolina basketball boasts iconic moments and figures at every turn.

North Carolina Basketball’s Storied History

The North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball program boasts one of the richest histories in the sport, including six national titles and a record 21 Final Four appearances spanning nine decades. Their success stems not just from the talent that has graced their roster, but also from the excellent coaches who have stalked the sidelines in Chapel Hill.

Six Banners Fly in Chapel Hill

North Carolina has captured six national championships. The most recent came in 2017 behind coach Roy Williams’ squad defeating Gonzaga. Williams also delivered the 2005 and 2009 titles. As a freshman in 1982, basketball legend Michael Jordan hit the iconic baseline jumper to give North Carolina a 63-62 championship win over Georgetown.

Including that 1946 loss, the Tar Heels have reached the finals 12 times. Their 2016 defeat was especially crushing, as Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating three-pointer lifted Villanova 77-74 after North Carolina had just tied it.

Winning teamScoreLosing teamTournamentLocationMVP
1957North Carolina54–53 (3OT)KansasNCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentKansas City, MOWilt Chamberlain
1982North Carolina63–62GeorgetownNCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentNew Orleans, LAJames Worthy
1993North Carolina77–71MichiganNCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentNew Orleans, LADonald Williams
2005North Carolina75–70IllinoisNCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentSt. Louis, MOSean May
2009North Carolina89–72Michigan StateNCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentDetroit, MIWayne Ellington
2017North Carolina71–65GonzagaNCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentGlendale, AZJoel Berry II

Dean Dome Hosts More Final Fours Than Anyone

With 21 Final Four appearances, North Carolina holds the NCAA record. They’ve reached the national semifinals during nine straight decades, including 2022 after upsetting archrival Duke. Since 2000, the Tar Heels have advanced to seven Final Fours.

RecordTournament ResultCoachKey Players
1945-4630-5Lost National ChampionshipBen CarnevaleBob Paxton, Bones McKinney
1956-5732-0Won National ChampionshipFrank McGuireLennie Rosenbluth, Pete Brennan, Joe Quigg
1966-6726-6Lost in Final FourDean SmithLarry Miller, Bob Lewis
1967-6828-4Lost National ChampionshipDean SmithLarry Miller, Charlie Scott
1968-6927-5Lost in Final FourDean SmithCharlie Scott, Bill Bunting
1971-7226-5Lost in Final FourDean SmithRobert McAdoo, Bill Chamberlain
1976-7728-5Lost National ChampionshipDean SmithWalter Davis, Phil Ford, Mike O’Koren
1980-8129-8Lost National ChampionshipDean SmithJames Worthy, Sam Perkins, Jimmy Black
1981-8232-2Won National ChampionshipDean SmithJames Worthy, Sam Perkins, Jimmy Black
1990-9129-6Lost in Final FourDean SmithRick Fox, King Rice, Pete Chilcutt
1992-9334-4Won National ChampionshipDean SmithGeorge Lynch, Eric Montross, Donald Williams
1994-9528-6Lost in Final FourDean SmithJerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace
1996-9728-7Lost in Final FourDean SmithVince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Shammond Williams
1997-9834-4Lost in Final FourBill GuthridgeAntawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Shammond Williams
1999-0022-14Lost in Final FourBill GuthridgeBrendan Haywood, Jason Capel, Joseph Forte
2004-0533-4Won National ChampionshipRoy WilliamsSean May, Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton
2007-0836-3Lost in Final FourRoy WilliamsTyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson
2008-0934-4Won National ChampionshipRoy WilliamsTyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson
2015-1633-7Lost National ChampionshipRoy WilliamsBrice Johnson, Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson
2016-1733-7Won National ChampionshipRoy WilliamsJustin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Kennedy Meeks
2021-2229-10Lost National ChampionshipHubert DavisArmando Bacot, Caleb Love, RJ Davis

Williams Sets Mark for Tourney Consistency

Roy Williams garnered three of North Carolina’s national titles across his tenure, the most by any Tar Heels coach. While Dean Smith captured two championships and reached 11 Final Fours, Williams hit nine Final Fours including five with North Carolina specifically.

The legendary coach is the only leader ever to guide two programs—North Carolina and Kansas—to four Final Fours each. His 903 career victories place him ninth all-time in Division I men’s basketball.

Tar Heels Among Most Decorated Ever

On the whole, North Carolina stands among college basketball’s most accomplished institutions in history beside UCLA, Kentucky and Duke. Their trophies and accolades include:

  • 6 National Championships
  • 21 Final Four Appearances
  • 29 Elite Eight Berths
  • 35 Sweet Sixteen Trips
  • 18 ACC Tournament Titles
  • 49 All-Americans

TournamentWinning teamScoreLosing teamLocation
1946NCAA TournamentOklahoma A&M43–40North CarolinaMadison Square Garden
1957NCAA TournamentNorth Carolina54–53 (3OT)KansasKansas City Municipal Auditorium
1968NCAA TournamentUCLA78–55North CarolinaLos Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
1977NCAA TournamentMarquette67–59North CarolinaThe Omni
1981NCAA TournamentIndiana63–50North CarolinaPhiladelphia Spectrum
1982NCAA TournamentNorth Carolina63–62GeorgetownLouisiana Superdome
1993NCAA TournamentNorth Carolina77–71MichiganLouisiana Superdome
2005NCAA TournamentNorth Carolina75–70IllinoisEdward Jones Dome
2009NCAA TournamentNorth Carolina89–72Michigan StateFord Field
2016NCAA TournamentVillanova77–74North CarolinaNRG Stadium
2017NCAA TournamentNorth Carolina71–65GonzagaUniversity of Phoenix Stadium
2022NCAA TournamentKansas72–69North CarolinaCaesars Superdome

With such sustained greatness behind them and the potential to add more ahead, signing up early for North Carolina sportsbook apps like Fanatics Sportsbook North Carolina using the Fanatics Sportsbook North Carolina promo code is a savvy play. As legislation expands North Carolina sports betting in the coming years, more Tar Heels postseason runs will mean more wagering excitement.

✅ Fact Checked on February 1, 2024 by Ken Weaver