Thursday night the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the #5 ranked Duke Blue Devils 74-66. It’s college basketball’s best rivalry. It’s a huge game, no question about it. When it was over North Carolina fans rushed the court. After that, about 10,000 North Carolina fans rushed Franklin St. It was a giant party, and Heel’s fans were going to enjoy it.
Wait a minute though when you are North Carolina, you don’t celebrate these kind of wins, you expect them.
North Carolina is one of the most tradition rich basketball schools in the country. They won the National Title as recently as 2009. This is Michael Jordan’s school. You don’t rush the court if you are North Carolina. You walk away like you own Duke. Rushing the court is overdone anyways. That was the call of quite a few critics of North Carolina’s celebration.
To that I say, let them enjoy it.
Back in January as North Carolina sat 1-4 in the ACC, it looked like the team that lost to UAB and Belmont had won out over the one that beat Michigan St., Louisville, and Kentucky. P.J Hairston wasn’t coming back. A North Carolina team that started the year in the top 15 was going to struggle to make the NIT, but then the Tar Heels went on a 7 game winning streak. There were nice wins over Pittsburgh at home, and Florida State on the road, but there wasn’t a true signature win.
The Tar Heels had lost 7 of their last 9 games to Duke, but Thursday seemed like cathartic win for the for North Carolina. From the early season inconsistency, to P.J. Hairston’s issues, to the recent struggles against arch rival Duke, all that emotion poured out in when the game ended. Remember North Carolina has a great tradition, but students that are UNC seniors knew a 2-7 record to Duke.
Is rushing the court over done? Yea probably, but it this case I have no problem with. North Carolina got a season defining win. They won, have fun Tar Heel fans.
We will see how far North Carolina can go in March, but certainly they look a lot more dangerous than they did this time last month.