Tell me, have you fallen in love with these Tar Heels yet?
Before you answer that question, remember how frustrated we all were two short weeks ago when Carolina got run out of Blacksburg, then gave up 15 three-pointers to both NC State at home and at Clemson to drop to 5-5 in the ACC.
Sure, a home game with last-place Pitt was ahead, but then came a stretch that might sink the season. We said the fork in the road was either back to the 2010 NIT or when the Heels followed three straight losses in 2014 by winning 13 of the next 14 games and another trip to the NCAA tournament.
Somehow, the ACC saddled UNC with playing Duke, at State and Notre Dame for a Thursday-thru-Monday tripleheader that looked almost impossible to sweep, considering our play of late. So, in the name of Theo, what happened?
One of the most thrilling wins in the Blue Blood rivalry, which is saying something with the Carolina-Duke history and, 40 hours later, a remarkable rematch with the Wolfpack in the blood-thirsty PNC Arena. How did that work out for our guys?
This was not such a lovable team those two weeks ago, one that Roy Williams called perhaps the worst on defense he’s ever coached. Sure, there were stars Luke Maye and Joel Berry. But who else would show up seemed to be the question every game.
I watched a clip of the crowd as Carolina was sticking a pitchfork in the Blue Devils, and it was not a celebration of satisfaction like most years when you get them at home. It was pure euphoria, like an early Christmas for 22,000 screaming banshees.
Then the win at State, with 19 turnovers compared to a school-record two against Duke, followed the same second-half recipe as Thursday night. Come back from a small deficit with a red-hot run to take control of the game. While we couldn’t hit a shot for almost six minutes late Thursday, neither team could miss in Raleigh. Maye had a game that might make us forget his Pop and all those TD passes in the 1980s. Berry had another slashingly great effort, and Cam Johnson kept his hot hand while Kenny Williams pump-faked his defender out of the way and hit the three-ball that might have saved the day.
So, now tonight, Notre Dame comes in to try and spoil the trifecta. Will there be any gas left in the tank, any lift left on those Nike kicks? Either way, you gotta love ‘em right now.