NEW ORLEANS — Saturday night at the Superdome, the fourth NCAA tournament semifinal to match ACC programs features those that won the previous three: Duke and North Carolina.
Avert your eyes Virginia fans, because as most of y’all know, the first Final Four meeting of ACC rivals featured UVA, Jeff Lamp and Ralph Sampson against Al Wood, James Worthy and UNC in 1981.
The Cavaliers had swept the Tar Heels during their regular-season home-and-home for the first time, with Sampson scoring 32 points in an 80-79 overtime victory at Carmichael Auditorium. But at the Final Four in Philadelphia, UNC limited Sampson to 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting and rode Al Wood’s 39 points to a 78-65 victory.
Two nights later, just hours after John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, Indiana defeated North Carolina 63-50 for the national championship.
Duke survived an all-ACC Final Four semifinal in 2001, overcoming a 22-point, first-half deficit against Maryland to win 95-84. Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer and friends then defeated Arizona in the final 82-72.
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The most recent Final Four encounter between ACC teams was North Carolina’s 83-66 thumping of Syracuse. The Tar Heels then dropped a classic championship game to Villanova, the Wildcats prevailing 77-74 on Kris Jenkins’ 3-pointer at the horn, this after Marcus Paige’s double-clutch 3-pointer drew Carolina even.
As an 11-year-old North Carolina fanatic in 1982, Hubert Davis desperately wanted to watch the Tar Heels’ national championship game against Georgetown. But the first half conflicted with a Boy Scouts meeting, and as Davis recalled this week, his parents insisted that he honor his commitment to attend the meeting.
And so he did, returning home in plenty of time to see Michael Jordan make the left-wing jumper that secured Carolina’s first national championship under Dean Smith.
The ’82 Final Four was the first in New Orleans, and a dozen years later, the national semifinals returned here. Then a New York Knicks rookie, now the Tar Heels’ head coach, Davis watched on television as UNC defeated Michigan’s Fab Five for the title.
Davis said he viewed the game with a mixture of joy and sadness — joy for former teammates such as Donald Williams, Eric Montross, Pat Sullivan and George Lynch; sadness that the 1991 Carolina team on which he started as a junior lost to …….