Kansas and North Carolina have played each other four times in the NCAA Tournament, always in the Final Four.
If it’s to happen this year, a Final Four berth will be on the line.
The Jayhawks are a No. 2 seed for the first time since reaching the 2003 national title game, and they were presented with a favorable regional path — Omaha, Neb., for the second and third rounds and, if they survive, St. Louis.
The top-seeded Tar Heels, who fell in Sunday’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game to Florida State, played without forward John Henson, the league’s defensive player of the year. He injured his wrist in the quarterfinal victory over Maryland. Freshman Michael McAdoo got the start.
North Carolina might face a Knight-coached team in the second round. The Tar Heels take on the winner of a first-round game between Vermont and Lamar, which is coached by Pat Knight. He’s the son of legendary coach Bob Knight, and Knight choked up when asked about the accomplishment while calling the Missouri-Baylor Big 12 title game on Saturday.
The region features a second opening-round game between at-large selections South Florida and California. The inclusion of the Golden Bears gave the Pac-12 a second team, and it wasn’t league regular-season champion, Washington.
The last time Kansas and North Carolina played was in the 2008 national semifinals. It was the first meeting between the teams after Roy Williams left KU to become the Tar Heels’ coach in 2003. The Jayhawks raced to a 40-12 first-half lead and won 84-66, then captured the national championship over Memphis two nights later. The Jayhawks also started that NCAA Tournament in Omaha.