NCAA Sweet 16: Blue Blood matchup between UCLA vs. North Carolina
March 24, 2022
The North Carolina Tar Heels and the UCLA Bruins have had their fair share of on-court battles throughout their histories. With 11 national championships, the Bruins are the best program in the country, but the Tar Heels are only behind them with six.
In 2022, the two schools will meet in the NCAA Tournament's Round of 16 in Philadelphia. This will be the third time these two teams have met in March.
While the Bruins were able to avoid facing a top-seeded team, North Carolina's underdog mentality could make them a dangerous matchup. The Tar Heels enter the tournament with a 14 win streak. They defeated Duke in their regular-season finale on March 5.
During a press conference earlier this week, North Carolina coach Hubert Davis talked about the team's confidence and how it's not about being scared or nervous.
"This is a time of joy and celebration and confidence," Davis said. "This is not a time of being scared and nervous. I can't tell you how together and healthy this team is right now. We don't want this to end."
This season, the Tar Heels finished second in the ACC with a 15-5 record. But they lost in the conference tournament quarterfinals to Virginia Tech.
After the loss, Davis led his team to a victory over ninth-seeded Marquette and a win over top-seed Baylor in the NCAA Tournament.
The Tar Heels have won several championships and made numerous appearances in the NCAA Tournament, but none have been as impressive as this year's group. RJ Davis, Brady Manek, and Caleb Love made over 60 3-point shots.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin acknowledged that the Tar Heels is one of the top teams in the nation. "Their starting five is as good as anyone's in America," he praised the opposing team's lineup.
Cronin also warned his team about facing the Tar Heels in the Sweet 16. He noted that North Carolina is playing as well as anyone.
"I told the guys to make sure we erase the '8' next to North Carolina and put a '1'," the 50-year-old head coach said. "They won at Duke, they beat Marquette by 30 and had Baylor buried … they're playing as good as anybody."
The two schools have a history of playing each other well. North Carolina holds a 10-3 record against the Bruins. Their last matchup against each other was in December 2019, when the Tar Heels defeated the Bruins 74-64 in Las Vegas.
The first meeting between these two schools occurred in 1968. Bruins star Lew Alcindor (now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) had 34 points and 16 rebounds during the championship game to beat the Tar Heels 78-55. It was John Wooden's fourth NCAA title as the Bruins' coach.
In 1989, the second-seeded Tar Heels defeated the seventh-seeded Bruins in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. North Carolina was led by five players in double figures.
Aside from the court, the history between the two schools goes beyond basketball. In 1992, Michael Jordan revealed his love for Westwood in an interview.
During his interview in 1992, Jordan mentioned that he always wanted to play for UCLA. Although he wasn't recruited by the school, he admired the team.