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On Monday night, Kris Jenkins, Ryan Arcidicano, and Jay Wright broke the hearts of 19,000 Carolina undergraduates, as well as countless alumni and fans in a game — that while objectively was a classic — will be forever remembered in Chapel Hill with as much joy as the Christmas your drunk Uncle Rico revealed to you that there was no Santa. In an attempt to make sense of the sea of highlight clips, gut-wrenching post-game interviews, and crying Jordan memes that I now find myself in, my good friend Jose Cuervo and I have decided to make a timeline of the events leading up to, and immediately following, the game.
After a difficult day of almost going to class, I walked to the house amid a sea of Carolina blue. By the time I got there the first keg was halfway gone, and a group of brothers from smaller schools in the area had come to cheer on the Heels.
The entire room had the pent-up energy of a tightly coiled spring. Superstition reigned supreme, as nearly every sentence uttered was preceded by a knock on wood and I’m pretty sure I saw a brother from a small school around Charlotte attempt to perform a ritual sacrifice on a Fratcoon, the local raccoon that digs through the fraternity garbage and gets hammered off of Natty light runoff. After an hour or so of heavy drinking, I realized we were nearly out of cups so, while cursing the fact we had recently initiated our spring pledges, I ran to a CVS on Franklin street to buy more.
The rest of the afternoon was spent similarly, with the amount of alcohol consumed only increasing the nervous energy, and before we knew it, everybody had claimed their seats and the only major movement was done when fighting through the crowd to grab your pre-game Jimmy Johns delivery.
From the tip, it was clear we were in for a battle. The first half felt like a classic prizefight, with two heavy hitters going blow for blow and a crowd of drunk idiots cheering on each minuscule success as if it was Chrissy Teigen freeing the nipple.
Start of 2nd Half
Villanova quickly erased our 5-point lead and started to build one of their own. As our team began to falter, tensions in the house began to rise: drunken outbursts were made, random dudes unintentionally violated the unspoken superstitious rules of the house, and some girls displayed their absolute lack of sports acumen (I overheard one girl asking how many “touchdowns” we were down by).
5:46 left in the game
Just when things seemed to be getting out of hand, our team made on last push, led by an outstanding finish from senior leader Marcus Paige. With each ensuing defensive stop and transition score, our hopes perked up a little more culminating in…
4.7 Seconds left
Incredible. Most people couldn’t make that shit in horse and here Marcus is hitting a contested double clutch three to tie it. About this time is when everybody inserted their own Marcus Paige story into the conversation; the gist is he’s a great player and an even better dude. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t end up coaching UNC one day.
Kris Jenkins O’clock
Silence. We all sat there in various stages of shock as our president turned off the TV. One by one the seniors, who have been through so much with this team, began to break down and cry. Outside of a funeral procession or a screening of Field of Dreams, I’ve never seen more grown men openly weep than I did at that moment.
Different people coped with the loss in different ways: Some went to bars, some got high, some committed minor property damage, but most of us just got sad. My night ended a few hours later — after a few half-hearted attempts at a pity blowjob — splitting drunk food with my pledge brothers. Like 19,000 other Carolina students, I went to bed Monday night heartbroken. But that’s not how the story ends.
When the team arrived back to the Dean Dome at 2 p.m. Tuesday, they were greeted by the thunderous applause of thousands of fans. While it wasn’t the ending Chapel Hill had hoped for, this year’s Carolina team had given us more than we could have ever asked. In a season that was supposed to be mired in controversy, the 2015-2016 Carolina basketball team was able to rise above it all, playing the game with so much joy and energy that it reminded us all why we love sports in the first place. Win or lose, rain or shine, it truly is a Great Day To Be a Tar Heel..
Image via YouTube