North Carolina has the third-most NCAA men’s basketball national championships with six. But for every championship win, the team also has a championship defeat.
The Tar Heels were dealt a heartbreaking 72-69 loss to Kansas in New Orleans on Monday. North Carolina built a 16-point lead in the first half, but Kansas mounted a record-breaking comeback en route to the 2022 national title.
Monday’s game marks the sixth time North Carolina lost a national title game, locking the school in a three-way tie for the most in NCAA history.
Below is the list of teams with three or more national title game losses:
T-1. North Carolina, 6
T-1. Kansas, 6
T-1. Duke, 6
4. Michigan, 5
T-5. Kentucky, 4
T-5. Ohio State, 4
7. Georgetown, 3
Had North Carolina won, Kansas would have taken sole possession of the record with a seventh national title game defeat. Instead, North Carolina now joins the two teams it faced in New Orleans at the top of the list.
North Carolina lost in its first national championship game appearance in 1946 against Oklahoma State. It took 11 years for the Tar Heels to return to the title game as they beat Kansas for the 1957 title.
The school lost its next three national championship game appearances in 1968, 1977 and 1981. Michael Jordan helped the team bounce back, reach the title game once again and beat Georgetown for the 1982 crown.
The 1982 victory kicked off a four-game championship game winning streak for the Tar Heels. North Carolina beat Michigan in 1993, Illinois in 2005 and Michigan State in 2009.
In 2016, the Tar Heels were dealt their fifth – and most excruciating – national championship defeat. After Marcus Paige hit one of the most improbable shots in NCAA Tournament history, Villanova’s Kris Jenkins followed it up with an even more iconic, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to dash the Tar Heels’ championship hopes.
To North Carolina’s credit, the team put that heartbreaking game in the rearview and won the 2017 national championship game against Gonzaga.
Now, Hubert Davis’ squad will look to do what the program did in 2017 – bounce back from championship agony to win the whole thing.