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Tar Heel Hangover: Basketball is over too soon

An abrupt end to the season signifies that life has temporarily changed.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-Clemson vs Florida State Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our opportunity to review last week’s games, second-guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the week ahead, and mourn the end of the college basketball season.

The Elevator Speech: What happened last week.

A blowout win in the first round of the ACC Tournament over Virginia Tech had hopes riding high. Syracuse would have none of the Carolina hype, however, and easily dispatched the Heels. It was the last game of the Carolina season, the last game of the ACC Tournament, and one of the last games of the year fro college basketball.

It is still hard to believe that is was all last week.

Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .

Normally, this is the section where I review the good and bad decisions from the week and figure out how to fix the team. Today, it is the psyche of sports fans that needs a little fixing.

Six months ago, if I told readers that Carolina would be playing on the last night of college basketball, fans would have enthusiastically cheered. Instead, here everyone sits in a life of limbo. Many Tar Heel fans found this season to be an anomaly; one that recent memory could not recall. Such frustrations, however, pale in comparison to the events of late last week across the country.

There are now no sports. Yesterday was Selection Sunday. What to many, including me, is the most exhilarating hour of the year turned into a somber reflection of the current reality. I spent the afternoon watching a golf tournament rerun just to get a sense of normality.

What is March without the Madness? What did the season mean without the crowing achievement? There have been months of building brackets and busting bubbles all for naught. This year, Cinderella has no ball. The season’s end has turned into a sobering reminder of life’s fragility. And to all of this, Carolina’s losing season will be but a footnote.

Oh no; does this mean that Virginia is still the defending champion?

Fans should not feel bad for this year’s Tar Heels. Their season ended Wednesday night. Feel bad for Dayton or San Diego State, who had once in a century seasons and could well have been on their way to the Final Four. Or perhaps Liberty, who had an amazing 30-4 season and a conference title in the Atlantic Sun, is the most heartbreaking. Bradley was the four seed in the Missouri Valley Tournament but they made an improbable run (again) through an upset laden bracket to earn the automatic bid. Senior Darrell Brown scored 21 points in championship game and earned the chance to play again. But he will not.

Carolina had a year of injury, heartbreak, injury, disappointment, injury, a little hope, and lots of losses. It is somewhat ironic that the whole world suffering an injury has now ended everyone’s season.

Final Thoughts

Over the coming weeks, I will do a full review of the season. There will be time to reflect on the close losses, time to ask what if, and time to look ahead. The Hangover normally sticks around through mid-April and perhaps this year will be the same. Maybe it is time to go ahead and start the summer of debates early. Feel free to chime in the comments and let me know what light can be provided at the end of this tunnel.

More than anything, however, it is time just to be thankful for our health and to stay safe. Wash your hands. Do no touch your face.

Go Heels.