North Carolina’s season ended Thursday night with a 79-72 loss against Wisconsin in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament – a defeat that will be remembered for the Tar Heels’ inability to hold a second half lead, again, and for a comeback attempt in the final minute that proved futile.
There weren’t as many tears inside the North Carolina locker room this time, and the sadness, the hurt, were more muted than when UNC ended its season a year ago. There was, mostly, a sense the Tar Heels had been here before – close but far.
North Carolina junior guard Marcus Paige spoke on Thursday after his team's season-ending loss against Wisconsin as if he expects everyone with remaining eligibility to return next season – including himself.
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Dean Smith left each of the varsity letterman he coached at North Carolina $200 for a “dinner out,” according to a letter one of his attorneys sent to his former players that was posted to Twitter on Thursday.
Perhaps nothing about UNC’s game against Wisconsin on Thursday in an NCAA tournament West Regional semifinal will be as challenging as defending Frank Kaminsky, who’s among the front-runners for national player of the year.
In the realm of power rankings and probabilities, it's just about a 50-50 shot Duke, North Carolina or N.C. State makes the Final Four. Statistically speaking, it's a coin flip. Practically speaking, it's going to happen. It has to happen.