Texas Bound Tar Heel Men Eye NCAA Tournament Run
The North Carolina men’s basketball team will have a chance to wipe the sour taste of its loss to Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals when it faces Big East Tournament champion Providence in its opening game of the NCAA Tournament in San Antonio.
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“I thought we were going to come back and win the game, especially when we got it down to single digits. I thought it was going to be one of the great finishes. I really believed that. People think I’m a little wacko any way. You got to try something different,” Coach Williams says.
Carolina waited too long to turn on the engines against Pitt. UNC will certainly need to bring it’s best for a complete 40 minutes if it hopes to experience that winning feeling again.
The Tar Heels will begin their NCAA journey in San Antonio as the No. 6 seed in the Tournament. First up, will be the No. 11 Providence Friars. The Friars will pose a formidable challenge as they downed No. 3 seed Creighton in the Big East championship game.
Coach Williams says he still believes Carolina has something left in store for the Big Dance.
“Don’t bury us yet. We still got some play left,” Coach Williams says.
UNC won’t be the only Triangle team featured in the San Antonio region. The Eagles of N.C. Central, located in Durham, will join them.
The winner of Tar Heels-Friars contest will play the winner of the game between No. 3 seed IowaState and No. 14 seed NC Central on Sunday.
Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige says he and his teammates are confident in their abilities to flip the switch on their recent fortunes.
“We’re still doing things well. Our confidence isn’t all lost. We just got to get back to work and fine-tune some things. We have to understand that you got to come ready to play against anyone for 40 minutes, not for ten,” Paige says.
The Tar Heels return to the NCAA field this season for the 10th time in 11 years under Coach Williams. Coach Williams has led Carolina to a 28-7 overall record in the NCAA Tournament.
“We have had some outstanding wins this year, both in and out of league play, over teams that received some very high seeds in the field, so we know we are capable. But we must play better than we have over the last two weeks if we want to reach our big-time dreams,” Coach Williams says.
The Tar Heels are 20-5 in NCAA Tournament play in their last six appearances, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2007, 2011 and 2012, the Final Four in 2008 and winning the title in 2009.
Carolina is making its third NCAA Tournament appearance as a No. 6 seed and has a 2-2 record as a No. 6, going 1-1 in both 1996 and 2004.
And with the way this season has gone for these up-and-down Tar Heels, it’s anyone’s guess how far they’ll go in March Madness, seemingly just as likely to lose in the first round as advance to the Final Four.
ACC and Triangle Teams’ Schedules
No. 6 East – Carolina v. No. 11 Providence – Friday 7:20p TNT
No. 1 East – Virginia v. No. 16 Coastal Carolina – Friday 9:25p TBS
No. 3 Midwest – Duke v. No. 14 Mercer – Friday 12:15p CBS
No. 12 First Round (Midwest) – NC State v. No. 12 Xavier – Tuesday 9:10p truTV
No. 3 South – Syracuse v. No. 14 Western Michigan – Thurs 2:45p CBS
No. 9 South – Pittsburgh v. No. 8 Colorado – Thursday 1:40p TBS
No. 14 East – NC Central v. No. 3 Iowa State – Friday 9:50p TNT