For a program unfairly or not that gets often gets questioned for it’s hearts, guts, and toughness, the North Carolina Tar Heels showed a ton of it against the Kentucky Wildcats in their Elite 8 win.
The best stretch of basketball I’ve seen this year has been when the North Carolina destroyed a quality field in Maui last winter. When the Heels are on, no team in the country has a higher ceiling. The problem is they were prone to uneven stretches of basketball. I saw them play in Greenville, SC. They led Arkansas 30-13, and were fortunate to hold for a 72-65 win. They lost at Georgia Tech, played terrible in a loss at Virginia, and got beat by Duke twice. You wondered if the Heels had the heart to get to the Final 4.
The answer is a resounding YES. North Carolina did not play well against Kentucky. For 7 minutes, they looked awful at the end of the first half and the beginning of the 2nd half. They couldn’t make a shot, and the offense was a mess. Eventually Kentucky took a 64-59 lead. The Tar Heels appeared finished, but their toughness came through. They knocked down foul shots, role player Luke Maye came up huge, and Roy Williams zoned up the Cats on a handful of possessions to surprise Kentucky.
Who says Roy Williams isn’t a tactician, or that the Tar Heels aren’t tough? They showed both Sunday and now they are headed to the Final 4.
Against a field of South Carolina, Gonzaga, and Oregon, North Carolina will be the favorite. South Carolina and Oregon are on improbable rolls. Gonzaga is a legit top 5 team. They’ve proven it, but this Final 4 is still the Heels to lose. It might just be their year.