The North Carolina Tar Heels
However, the selection committee undeniably placed more than a few old foes in the way for the Heels to tango with throughout the big dance.
The Heels and the Jayhawks have a history unlike any other, thanks to Coach Roy's defection to return home to Carolina, and this is the first roadblock UNC will hit. This ACC-Big 12 matchup always produces instant classics. However, in the last three games between these two programs in March, the Jayhawks have been named the victor in each matchup (2013, 2012, 2008). And it hasn't been particularly close.
Kansas is now 3-0 vs North Carolina since Roy Williams left Kansas for UNC (all 3 wins by 10+ points)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 24, 2013
UNC will definitely want to steer clear of Kansas, but if the basketball Gods chose to bring these two together once again, it would be in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City, which is only 40 miles away from the University of Kansas.
The last time UNC faced Kentucky, of course, one of the most legendary shots in March Madness history occurred, as Luke Maye nailed a long jumper as the clock expired to punch the Tar Heels' ticket to the Final Four. These two programs have been competing at the highest level against each other for the better of 20 years now, as their level of talent and continuous success brings them together more often than not. The last times these two squads matched up was in December of 2018, however, and the Cats took home the dub 80-72. And in the 2011 Elite Eight, it was Kentucky preventing Carolina from making the Final Four. This one's always a coin flip, and if then two meet again, it'll be with a trip to Minneapolis on the line.
The Iowa State Cyclones, who may seem to be an unlikely threat for North Carolina, still caused a wound that runs deep for this generation of Heels. The Cyclones defeated UNC in 2014 thanks to a DeAndre Kane game-winning layup with 1.6 seconds left in the Round of 32. Iowa State, as a program, knows that they have left a bad taste in the Tar Heels' mouth, a ghost of tourney failures past.
3 of the 4 winningest teams in NCAA Tournament history are in the Midwest region:— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 17, 2019
Most NCAA Tournament Wins All-Time
Kentucky 126 2 in Midwest
UNC 124 1 in Midwest
Duke 111 1 in East
Kansas 107 4 in Midwest
Overall, per usual, UNC was handed some of the hardest competition, not only in college basketball this season, but historically. The Tar Heels have the talent necessary to make a big run in this year's tournament with the senior leadership of Cam Johnson, Luke Maye and Kenny Williams, along with the superb athletic skill and ability of freshman Coby White and fierce down low presence of Garrison Brooks.
The Heels will have to bring their A game in order to make it out alive in the Midwest. But if they do, they'll have survived plenty of history in the process.