It is March Madness time again, and the North Carolina Tar Heels are ready to do some damage despite having one of toughest roads ahead of them. Tomorrow night, they take on No. 11 Providence in a game that can go either way. Both teams are solid, and I know that many people have picked the upset, but the Tar Heels have the experience factor on their side.
This is Providence’s 15th tournament appearance, while the Tar Heels are now going to be participating in their 45th NCAA tournament. Despite the experience factor, the Tar Heels had a much better regular season than the Friars. With a 23-9 record, they were able to grab the No. 6 seed, and it could have been much higher if they were able to come out stronger in the ACC tournament.
They completely collapsed in their first conference tournament game against Pittsburgh, but they were bound to have an off game after ending their 11-game win streak in the previous game against Duke. All momentum was lost entering the ACC tournament, so it was not much of a surprise that they came out flat. Obviously, the Tar Heels’ true potential was not seen against Pittsburgh, but they will without a doubt come out strong tomorrow night.
Providence is coming into the NCAA tournament with all of the momentum in the world after knocking off a tough Creighton team to win the Big East crown. I always stress the importance of momentum this late in the season, and Providence proved just how important it is throughout its conference tournament run. If the Tar Heels come out flat yet again, then the Friars will wipe the floor with them and bust several brackets (including my own).
All the Tar Heels need to do is make their free throws, have Marcus Paige light it up from beyond the arc, and simply play with the sense of urgency and momentum that they had prior to their final regular season game against Duke. It seems like a lot, but the Tar Heels are capable of doing a lot more than what the nation expects of them.
After all, they are March Madness veterans, and the atmosphere is second nature to them.
I do not believe that Providence can beat the Tar Heels tomorrow night, but I do believe that the Tar Heels can beat themselves. Their road to their sixth national championship begins tomorrow night, and if momentum is on their side, then the Tar Heels will shock the nation in the most difficult region in the tournament bracket.