Tar Heels’ tourney easy to skip

Published 10:17 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Perhaps it was from getting the chance to see King’s Fork’s tournament run, or perhaps it was the lack of upsets or Cinderellas in this year’s NCAA Tournament, but either way for the first time I can remember I wasn’t ready for every moment of March Madness during the last few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I still watched more than enough of it and I still had my bracket. For the final tally, UNC’s championship gave the President the win over my picks.

Actually, I think that was it. North Carolina, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough — really the whole Tar Heel team — was so unstoppable the Heels made the tournament easy to channel surf through during the second halves.

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For the first time since Duke in 2001, UNC won all six tourney games by double digits. None of the games were close in the final few minutes.

UNC was excellent to watch, but we didn’t realize until Monday’s demolition of Michigan State just how complete the Tar Heels were. So instead of looking for the usual drama a championship team goes through, we neutral fans should’ve just been taking the Heels’ performance in. I’m sure the many Tar Heel faithful around the region had no problem bypassing buzzer-beating shots and overtimes.

The Spartans had a home game with 50,000-plus fans. The Spartans looked equally impressive in upsetting Louisville and Connecticut. Michigan State was impressive, until meeting Carolina.

All the college hoops fans and pundits can give the Big East its props, fair enough, but when Carolina got out of the ACC and into the Big Dance, UNC turned dominant. Carolina’s toughest games, and the one stretch of the season during which some doubted the preseason No. 1 ranking, was in the middle of ACC play.

Prior to UNC’s 2005 title, Roy Williams was working his way toward an undeserved “choker” label. Now he has as many titles as Dean Smith in his 36 years at Chapel Hill. Williams doesn’t have 30 more years in him, but he certainly has at least one more title coming in the near future.

It’s also nuts to think about Hansbrough being named a “choker” had the Spartans come up with a way to slow down Carolina on Monday night. Critics, probably accurately for a 6-foot-9 center, can say what they will about Hansbrough’s pro career and there will be more than enough time to break all that down. Lawson for sure, and probably Ellington and Danny Green too, could’ve gone pro early as well.

It was good to see college athletes taking pride in the school, coaches and teammates they were playing for.