Tough loss for the Tar Heels yesterday. Brutal.
All year, I’ve maintained that I thought this squad was a year away. They were too young and too prone to lapses in concentration, intensity and/or judgment. Still, I hoped that they’d get it together enough or maybe just “talent” their way to the Final Four.
It almost happened. But then the inexperience and youth popped up. They thought they had it won. Kids are prone to impatience and that’s exactly what the Heels were, impatient. Seven minutes left and up by ten. Why not just end the game now? They started jacking up unnecessary threes, trying to hit the knockout punch instead of pounding it inside like they’d done all game. Tyler Hansbrough, Brandan Wright, Deon Thompson and Alex Stephenson combined to score 56 of Carolina’s 84 points, but for some reason, the guards thought they would be ones to finish things off. Keep in mind that when Carolina successfully battled back from a 16-point second-half deficit against Southern Cal in the previous round, they didn’t attempt a single three. Not one.
Momentum is a funny thing in sports. It can turn at any moment for almost any reason. In tennis, you can be up a break and serving for the match. Lose a quick pair of points, and suddenly you are back even on serve and your opponent has first serve in a tie-breaker. A couple more points go the other way and now he is in charge. Two hours of domination can be reversed in two minutes. Same thing in basketball. The Heels just needed to be smart and the game and East Regional was won. Instead, they repeatedly took bad shots early in their possession. Each miss emboldened the Hoyas and they started stretching and strengthening their defense. On the other end of the court, the suddenly aggressive and confident Big East squad attacked the rim, scoring time and again. By the time the Heels realized what was going on, it was too late.
I have a zillion other thoughts about that game and all of the others from the past four days, but I’m swamped at work. I’ll just leave you for now with an updated table of postseason results by conference. The SEC has assumed the mantle of top NCAA tourney team, while the Big East can claim to be the best for the whole postseason at this point.
|Bids||W-L||Win %||Impact||Bids||W-L||Win %||Bids||W-L||Win %||Impact|
[Update: I fixed a few stupid errors in the table. My bad.]