North Carolina and Indiana are set for an all-time clash in the Sweet 16 next week. The combined history between these two programs could fill a museum by itself, but they’ve actually have not met in the NCAA Tournament in 32 years.
Friday’s Regional Semifinal in Philadelphia will be the first NCAA Tournament game between the Tar Heels and Hoosiers since Michael Jordan’s final college game on March 22, 1984. North Carolina was ranked No. 1 in the country and 28-2 overall behind a dominant rotation that included Jordan, Sam Perkins, Kenny Smith and Brad Daugherty.
Roy Williams hopes that his team does not meet the same fate that Dean Smith’s did in that Atlanta-based East Regional semifinal decades ago. Jordan got hit with a couple early fouls and spent a good portion of the first half on the bench.
“When I got back in the second half, I felt like I was trying to cram 40 minutes into 20 minutes,” Jordan told USA Today in 2009. “I could never find any sync in my game.
“I thought we were the best team in the country. But in one game, that can be swept away from you.”
Indiana had Dan Dakich, now a well-known broadcaster and analyst, marking Jordan, a fact that Dakich will gladly discuss if you are interested. The Hoosiers won 72-68 behind Steve Alford’s 27 points and last-minute adjustments from Bob Knight to give the underdog a little bit of an edge against the top-ranked Tar Heels.
Yogi Ferrell, Brice Johnson and the rest of the current players won’t be playing with the weight of 1984 on their shoulders — they’ve got enough pressure as it is with the expectations of these basketball-crazed fan bases. But you bet those fans will remember 1984, and discuss it often as the days tick down to Friday night’s meeting in Philadelphia.