You ain't the only one Mike.
USA Today's Mike Lopresti furnishes us with an interesting look back at one of the more painful losses in UNC history. UNC was 28-2 and ranked #1 in the nation when they faced Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen. I recall I was nine and did not watch the game since it was on late. I still remember going into my parents' bedroom the next morning asking in anticipation if the Heels had won. "No, they didn't, I'm sorry honey" was the response I got from my mother. Daddy said later that Michael Jordan got in foul trouble and missed a huge chunk of the game. By the time he came back in it was too late. Apparently it still bugs Jordan:
Another Knight idea: Put a blue-collar defender named Dan Dakich on Jordan. Dakich was ordered to deny Jordan the backdoor cut, the post-up and offensive rebounds. Fail at any, and he was on the bench.
Dakich learned of his assignment a few hours before the game. Already ill, he went back to his room and threw up.
Jordan picked up two early fouls, and Smith sat him the rest of the first half, a decision that would inspire many second guesses.
"Everybody thought Coach Smith was at fault for keeping me on the sidelines," Jordan said, "But with me not on the floor, we were still a strong basketball team."
North Carolina trailed 32-28 at halftime, but instead of surging with the return, fell further behind. Indiana lead's lead grew to 12, shrank to two, but was preserved by freshman Alford's late free throws, the last of his 27 points. The Hoosiers shot 69.6% and won 72-68.
Jordan was a junior but the NBA was calling. His last college line showed 13 points, 6-for-14 shooting, five fouls — and one broken heart.
"When I got back in the second half, I felt like I was trying to cram 40 minutes into 20 minutes," he said. "I could never find any sync in my game.
"I thought we were the best team in the country. But in one game, that can be swept away from you."
Two days later, Indiana lost an ugly 50-48 regional final to Virginia, a team North Carolina had beaten twice during the season.
"I would have felt better," Jordan said "had they went on to win the national championship."
"I am not diminishing what he did. I think he did exactly what Coach Knight wanted him to do," Jordan said.
"But (the media) made it a one-on-on proposition. Being the competitor that I am, and hearing the only one who could ever stop you was Dan Dakich … when I look back at the shots I had, I lick my chops. I just missed them."
North Carolina's Buzz Peterson later became a coach and friend of Alford's. When Atlanta's Omni was demolished in 1997, Alford messaged Peterson that one of America's great arenas had come down.
A good joke.
But 25 years later, Michael Jordan still isn't laughing.
This is Example A of the perils involved in a one and done tournament. UNC could have very well been undefeated heading into the Sweet Sixteen game having lost to Duke in the ACC Semifinals and Arkansas on the road mid-season. There was also the fact Kenny Smith missed time with a broken wrist and speculation of what might have been had the team been completely healthy persists. Even with that factored in the Heels should have handled Indiana and then Virginia to make it to the Final Four. It was not to be. Such is the heartbreak of The Big Dance.