clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

North Carolina officially has more national championships than Duke

Facts only.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Gonzaga vs North Carolina Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With Roy Williams’ third national championship, remarkably surpassing the legendary Dean Smith’s career total, the University of North Carolina can officially claim more national titles than their arch rivals, the Duke Blue Devils. The North Carolina Tar Heels have six NCAA recognized national championships while Duke, despite a strong last several decades, can only boast five. Predating the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels also claim a seventh retroactively awarded title from the 1924 season.

North Carolina's first ever NCAA Tournament championship came in dramatic fashion back in 1957. Frank McGuire helped cap an undefeated 32-0 season by taking down Wilt Chamberlain and the mighty Kansas Jayhawks, 54-53 in triple overtime, a night after UNC advanced to the title game by beating Michigan State in triple OT.

Smith's "The Carolina Way" reached championship heights in 1982 when freshman Michael Jordan hit a jumper with 17 seconds to go to lead Smith to his first national championship and the Tar Heels' second.

Donald Williams, George Lynch, and Eric Montross helped Smith claim his second and the Tar Heels’ third after Michigan’s Chris Webber infamously tried to call a timeout down the stretch when the Wolverines had none remaining.

The Roy Williams era at UNC took just three years to join the national title club as Sean May, Rashad McCants, and Marvin Williams dug deep to outlast a great Illinois team in 2005. The Illini, like the 2016-17 Gonzaga Bulldogs, had just one loss going into the title game.

Williams’ second, UNC’s fifth, came behind a 21-point performance from Ty Lawson, who along with Danny Green and Tyler Hansbrough, led the Tar Heels to a comfortable 89-72 win over Michigan State.

Finally, UNC’s tie-breaking sixth national title came on the heels of an impressive 8-0 stretch run against the Zags. The 71-65 win was a close, if ugly, basketball game, but a championship just as sweet as the five that came before it.

Duke’s fifth and most recent championship came against Wisconsin in the 2014-2015 season. The Blue Devils failed to make it past the Sweet 16 the following season and lost during the first weekend this year against seven-seeded South Carolina.