This Day In Utah Sports History: Utah Utes Advance To National Championship Game

Mar 28, 2023, 2:39 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – On March 28, 1998, the Utah Runnin’ Utes dethroned No. 1 North Carolina in the Final Four to advance to the NCAA National Championship.

The furthest Utah has made it in the tournament since was the Sweet Sixteen in 2005 and 2015.

The game was played in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas in front of over 40,000 college basketball fans.

The Tarheels were led by future NBA stars Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison. Guard Andre Miller and Center Michael Doleac led the way as Utah defeated powerhouse UNC, 65-59.

Miller had potentially the game of the season for the Utes with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists. North Carolina’s Vince Carter posted 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 62.5% shooting from the field.

An Inside Look At Utah’s 1998 March Madness Run

Britton Johnsen played on the Utah men’s basketball team in 1998. He was one of the only bench players to get consistent minutes during the Utes tournament run.

In the game against North Carolina, Johnsen recorded 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block.

“I can’t believe it’s been 25 years,” Johnsen said. “The memories and the moments are still very clear. That locker room was the most fun I have ever had in my life.”

Just a week before the Final Four matchup against UNC, Utah defeated the reigning champion Arizona Wildcats in a blowout. The Utes stunned Arizona, forcing them to shoot 28.3% from the field for the game.

“With about three minutes to go,” Johnsen said. “I’m on the bench and I’m nudging guys. I’m starting to say ‘Final Four! Final Four!’  Thankfully, (Rick) Majerus didn’t hear about me doing that.”

Both Arizona and North Carolina were heavily favored to beat Utah in the 1998 tournament. Johnsen said that the Utes felt like the real deal after advancing to the championship game.

“You always have it in the back of your head when you’re playing, ‘can we really keep this thing going’,” Johnsen said. “When we won (against UNC), I was like ‘man, we are a good team.’ It felt like we were the best team in the whole tournament.”

Chandler Holt is a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter at @ChandlerHoltKSL.

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This Day In Utah Sports History: Utah Utes Advance To National Championship Game