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Celebrate a basketball centennial

This video looks back at the Tar Heels’ first national title, won a century ago, before March Madness became a popular event.

It was the winter of ’24 and a crowd of Carolina students eagerly awaited the results of the men’s basketball game, wondering if they would soon be rushing Franklin Street in celebration.

And then, just like that, a few beeps came across the line and the students ran into the street with jubilation. It was March 4, 1924, and a telegraph had delivered the news that the Tar Heels had prevailed in the Southern Conference championship game. A celebration was in order, and celebrate the students did.

As The Daily Tar Heel reported at the time, the festivities lasted well into the next day and included a large group of Carolina students walking to Durham to celebrate the Tar Heels’ triumph.

There was no NCAA tournament in 1924, so the undefeated Tar Heels’ Southern Conference title wasn’t considered a national championship until 1943. That’s when the Helms Foundation awarded dozens of national titles to Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky and other universities retroactively.

A century later, the accomplishment from that March day still hangs proudly in the Smith Center, joining the six — and counting — NCAA championships that have come since.

Press play above to watch a video commemorating the 100th anniversary of the championship.