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Will North Carolina-Kentucky live up to its blueblood history?


You want college basketball bluebloods? You got it.

When No. 2 North Carolina meets No. 4 Kentucky in the East Regional final Sunday, it’ll mark a showdown between the schools that are 1 and 3 on the all-time wins list, have combined for 31 Final Fours and 12 national titles.


In fact, it’s hard to say who likes these types of games more: fans or TV executives. There’s tradition, big-name coaches and massive fans bases. Now the only question is if the game lives up to that history.

Cross your fingers.

The Heels’ 75-73 home win vs. Kentucky earlier this season might not be an apt comparison, either. Both teams were ragged in that game and still searching for what worked. It was close, but the Wildcats and Heels are playing at a far, far higher level now.

“Both teams are drastically different,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “I think that both teams were very young and still very young, but I think the experiences that we’ve gained have made both of us a much better team.”

UNC (29-7) has only lost four times since that win over UK. The insertion of freshman point guard Kendall Marshall into the starting lineup has made UNC into the more familiar up-tempo version Williams trotted out in previous seasons.

The Wildcats (28-8) endured some rough road trips during SEC play, but has always had the look of a Final Four team. They just needed everyone to play their roles and to finally catch a few breaks. (The seeding committee did them no favors by making them a 4 seed, either.) Freshman point guard Brandon Knight has hit two game-winning shots in the NCAA tournament. That helps.

Both sides rely heavily on freshmen, but ignore that on Sunday. Those freshmen are not only talented, but have played enough this season to work out any jitters on a big stage.

Why do you think they’re playing for the bluebloods?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.