My freshman year, UNC made a solid run to the Final Four. It was somewhat surprising – UNC was a two seed, but it was 1995, the year after most of members of 1993 championship team graduated, and folks thought there was a limit to what Stackhouse, Wallace, and company could accomplish. But they exceeded those expectations, powering their way through Iowa State, Georgetown, and top-seed Kentucky by an average of fifteen points. There was partying on Franklin Street, the weather was gorgeous the entire month of March, and everybody on campus was smiling.
And then UNC lost to Arkansas.
It rained the next three days. Everybody's mood went south, and for some reason I'm pretty sure I had a couple of unscheduled tests in organic chemistry that week. That's how I remember it, anyway. (Oh, and allegedly Rasheed Wallace stopped going to class because he was embarrassed to be seen on campus.)
There's something about certain basketball games that do that. I overheard a conversation at work where neither participant knew who had won the game; I quietly ducked into another room before anyone thought to ask me. I'm a grown man hiding from people because of basketball game – and these are poeple who really don't care about college basketball beyond their busted brackets. I've had a small desire to punch something, anything, for most of the day. My evening run burned a lot of that off, but I don't want to think about Kentucky playing UConn, as I have a low-grade hate for both of those teams. At this point, I'm not sure a Butler or VCU national championship could salvage this tournament for me. I know, intellectually that this will fade; I've seen a lot of Final Four and Elite Eight losses since then, and I don't wake up in a cold sweat about 1995 or anything. But for now, it's a miserable day.
It may not have rained in Chapel Hill today. But I bet nobody's smiling.