Well, I haven't written all week about 'dem Heels.
Maybe it's because I'm still upset that the women lost to LSU. I guess it's a little greedy to want both teams in the Final Four, but that's reality. I really wanted to see the guys and gals both in the BIG Show in the same year.
Maybe I had been assuming all along the men would be there and am afraid to be "satisfied" with making it to this point.
Regardless, it was with an almost smug satisfaction that I watched the final seconds tick off the clock in last Sunday's victory over Louisville. Doubters be damned, the Heels had silenced the critics. I know it's easy to say "what doubters and critics?" when they've been ranked #1 for a while now and came in as the top overall seed in the tournament, but if you live where I do, everyone that is not a Tarheel fan is a Tarheel hater. And I have to admit, the same is true of Duke. You either worship Coach K, or you were glad to see them exit the field prematurely. I shrugged and made a conscious effort not to smile.
I overheard a regular at the Bagel Shop talking on his phone, and apparently the subject of the Heels came up. His end of the conversation went like this - "yeah, well, wait till Saturday. We'll see how far they can go then"
Excuse me? We'll see how far they can go then? Haven't they already gone damn near as far as you CAN go? I believe it's only possible to go one game farther than where they are at. I believe they've already gone farther than over 380 teams in the country, and farther than all but 3 of the "best 64" teams in the country. So THERE!
But the truth is, we will all be terribly disappointed if they don't bring home the trophy. The NCAA is better than most organizations at recognizing teams for the great achievement of actually GETTING there. But the general public will still consider it "falling short" if the Heels don't win it all. And there is some validity behind this, given the lofty ranking and sheer talent the team has. But UCLA is every bit as talented and has what I fear is a big advantage in their previous Final Four experience. They have lost in the National Semi-final the last 2 years, and I think they are hungry to stop that streak and rid that taste from their mouths, just as Carolina was not about to lose in the Regional Final after losing to Georgetown last year in that round.
Of course, the Heels have to get past Kansas first, which will not be an easy task, but it is one I think they will be up to. The Kansas players will be motivated to beat the coach who "abandoned" them to come to Chapel Hill, but I think Roy will be ready for them and I think we are the better team. If I'm right, and UCLA does indeed beat Memphis, I am not taking the position that the Bruins will beat us. I just think that that game will be a dogfight of the largest magnitude. I think the Heels can win that game, but they will have to play a flawless game and somehow equal the sheer determination that UCLA will bring to the table, not to mention their exceedingly high talent quotient. While watchng them play last weekend, I could only say -"Oh my God! They're TOUGH!" But then I think about some of the games Carolina has played this year, and have to believe there are Bruins fans out there right now saying exactly the same thing about us.
That feels pretty good :)