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TIGER KICKOFF: This week's opponent is North Carolina

Thursday, December 22, 2011 | 11:33 p.m. CST

Get to know Missouri's opponent in the Independence Bowl: North Carolina.

Basketball school

North Carolina is not necessarily known more its prowess on the football field, but the school is famous for its success on the hardwood. The Tar Heels have won five national championships in men's basketball, including two since the 2005 season. North Carolina has produced many basketball players who are considered among the best of all-time. Most notably, Michael Jordan was a Tar Heel. He helped North Carolina win the 1982 national championship. Fellow basketball hall of famer James Worthy was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

I'd know that whistling anywhere

One of the University of North Carolina's most famous alumni is actor Andy Griffith, best-known for his role as Andy Taylor in "The Andy Griffith Show." The show — with it's whistle-heavy theme song — starred Griffith, Don Knotts and a young Ron Howard. The show's setting of Mayberry is supposedly based on the small town of Mount Airy, N.C., although Griffith denies the connection. Chapel Hill, where the University of North Carolina is located, is just more than 100 miles from Mount Airy.

The battering ram

North Carolina has a live ram named Ramses which the school uses as a mascot. The story of Ramses, according to the university's athletics website, starts in the 1920s. In the early part of the decade, the football team's best player was a fullback: Jack "The Battering Ram" Merritt. Two years later, the school adopted a ram as its mascot, derived from Merritt's nickname. During the first game featuring the ram on the sidelines, the team's kicker rubbed the ram's head before taking the field to kick the game-winning field goal. The ram has stayed since.


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