The Heels survived, advanced, and now stand as the lone ACC team still dancing.
The North Carolina Tar Heels advanced to the Sweet Sixteen after their comeback victory against the Arkansas Razorbacks. We learned that victory is incredibly sweet, but also these three other things.
Heels have heart
Winning close games is tough. The Tar Heels really hadn’t come back from that many down in that little time before Sunday night, but they went on a 12-0 run to advance to the Sweet 16.
Arkansas pretty much had the game in hand before Carolina swooped back in and stole it from them. That takes so much talent, but it also takes toughness. Toughness hasn’t always been a word talking heads would assign to UNC, but they absolutely showed they had it to keep their season alive.
It was also obvious that Joel Berry II, while healthy enough to play, wasn’t at 100%. Roy Williams said Berry “didn’t have his legs under him,” which contributed to his colder-than-usual shooting. Berry was still able to contribute in a big way to the team’s win, and that is pure toughness.
No plays off
Carolina had a chance to put Arkansas away in the first half. UNC had gotten out to a double digit lead and had locked down their offense. The only thing was that the Heels’ offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders. The Razorbacks went on a run before halftime and made a game of it.
Failing to step on the opponents’ throat when given the chance resulted in Carolina needing to play catch up in the final minutes of the game. It resulted in years off our lives for having to watch it. Joel Berry said in the postgame that the team has taken some plays off and they can’t do that at this point in the season.
He’s absolutely right about that. Maybe when it’s December...but not now. This team has the talent to beat pretty much anyone, but they need to avoid stretches where they throw up threes early in the shot clock and begin to lose composure. Hopefully that lesson has been learned and can be applied starting immediately.
The Tar Heels are now the lone ACC team left in the NCAA Tournament. It’s a pretty disappointing showing for a conference that was widely-regarded as the best in college basketball this season.
Some of the performances were pretty embarrassing (looking at you, UVA) and some were hilarious (thank you, South Carolina) but now Carolina is all alone. They’ll carry the torch for the rest of the conference as they try to make it back to the Final Four (and hopefully beyond).
Was the ACC over-hyped, or did all the teams playing at such a competitive level all season result in most tournament teams just running out of gas? Fans of other conferences will definitely say it’s the former, but there’s no real way to know at this point.