They get something better than a trophy
Bill Self cut down the nets in New Orleans but we wait to see if the NCAA will treat him like Rick Pitino or Bruce Pearl. Will the Jayhawks get to raise their banner before it gets taken down and put into the asterisk category or will Self get to pin the blame on someone else and go on with his coaching like nothing happened?
On the other hand what UNC did will never be removed or erased from the records or memories of their fans or the fans of their rival Duke Blue Devils. In his first season after replacing Roy Williams, Hubert Davis took a team that was on the bubble heading into the final weeks of the season and brought them to the brink of a title. How Carolina got there is what we’ll remember for longer than we’ll remember who won the 2022 title.
With the world focused on Coach K’s final regular season game in Cameron Indoor, the Tar Heels took the bus over and with all those former players, all those celebrities and all those people who shelled out thousands to be in the house, all UNC did was drop 55 points on Duke’s head to win 94-81. They didn’t just crash the party, they ate all of Coach K’s food, they clogged his toilets and then they took everyone and the DJ back to their place for the after-party.
Somehow the basketball gods decided that wasn’t enough and they gave us Duke-UNC in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever….and they did it in the Final Four. As if ruining his final home game wasn’t enough, UNC beat Duke 81-77 and ended Coach K’s career. So let’s look at all that the Tar Heels did to their biggest rival in the span of a month:
- Beat Duke in Durham in Coach K’s final home game
- Beat Duke in the Final Four in Coach K’s final game as HC
- Made Coach K’s record vs UNC 50-50
They denied the man a fond Cameron farewell, they denied him a shot at one more National Championship and they denied every Duke fan from responding to those two shots with the super-weak “Well Coach K had a winning record against UNC…” comeback. They took it all and that’s for generations to come.
That took away the sting from the Hoyas winning the final Dome match-up and gave Orange fans some satisfaction. Duke fans didn’t get that. Is that better than a ring for the players? Maybe not but never has a team finished 2nd and still left the year as the biggest winner in the sport. Hubert Davis and his players gave their fanbase the ultimate win over their rival and that’s going to feel real good for the rest of their lives.