The two best college basketball teams I saw this year were North Carolina and Gonzaga and tonight we’ll see which one was best.
What worries me for the Tar Heels is can they win a championship without me. Just kidding of course, but of their five National Championships I covered four of them, two each for Dean Smith and Roy Williams.
The other time the Tar Heels won I was seven and probably more interested in toy soldiers and my Fanner 50 (a toy gun) than I was basketball.
My first final four was 1982 in New Orleans, and I know I’ve told the story about how I had a tap on the shoulder about 45 minutes before the game and it was Dean Smith wanting to know if I had a light. We both smoked at the time.
The Tar Heels won that game, one of the all-time great finals, 63-62. An epic battle between two Hall of Fame coaches Smith and John Thompson.
A freshman you might have heard of, Michael Jordan, hit the game winner with 17 seconds left. The Hoyas came up court but guard Fred Brown passed the ball to James Worthy, who played for North Carolina, and with two seconds left he was fouled. Thompson took a time-out to isolate the shooter, and he missed both free throws, but the Hoyas were out of time outs.
There were several future NBA players in that game including Georgetown center Patrick Ewing, who today was named head coach at his alma mater, replacing Thompson’s son.