The entire game, it seemed like there were two Carolina teams flickering in and out of focus, like two TV channels overlapping on the same band. There was the team from the previous tournament games, where Ty Lawson sliced through defenders at will, and Wayne Ellington dropped threes at will, going 5 for 7 behind the arc on his way 20 points. And then there was the other Carolina team, that popped their heads up earlier in the season. The one frustrated by Villanova's defense descending on the big men in the paint. The team that gave up an obscene number of offensive rebounds to a smaller team (19, and only that low because the Heels finally got it under control late), that went through scoring droughts and could never put an opponent away. I'd hoped to never see that team again this year.
What I never saw, however, was the teams of years past, that came into a Final Four game against Kansas half-asleep and never recovered, or panicked in the waning minutes of a game against Georgetown. The upperclassmen leadership on this team is phenomenal; Wayne Elington and Bobby Frasor (7 rebounds, 5 offensive in 19 minutes) were all over the court scooping up loose balls knocked free from freshmen hands by the Wildcat defense. Ty Lawson ran the floor like he was oblivious to the influx of hands slapping at the ball in two or threes; he only had four turnovers. As bad as the second half got at times - UNC shot 9 for 29, Nova 10 for 38 - the Wildcats were never able to cut the lead closer than five, a margin quickly doubled by Danny Green and Ty Lawson. This team is working together like a well-oiled machine, even when the shots don't fall. There's no doubt, no fear, and no chance of letting Michigan State upset them. Sportswriters will kvetch about the lack of surprise, the absence of drama, the sheer inevitability of it all; let them. This is a beautiful thing to watch finally come together, and I plan to enjoy it.
(They could make a few more free throws, though.)