RALEIGH – The white board in the locker room was bare except for the number 16 inside a small black square. Players checked their Twitter feeds and their Snapchats, and shouted at each other across the room in between sips of recovery shakes. The next opponent was Indiana, but in that moment, the opponent could have been the Golden State Warriors for all North Carolina cared. They were moving onto the Sweet Sixteen, and there’d be plenty of time to prepare later. They were going to enjoy this.
Even though history follows North Carolina, it doesn’t follow the players. They live in the moment, and Roy Williams prefers it that way. So, despite the fact that the last time UNC and Indiana played in the NCAA Tournament was Michael Jordan’s last college game (a loss in the 1984 Sweet Sixteen), and the time before that was the 1981 National Championship (another loss), the players weren’t stuck in the past.
“I didn’t know that,” forward Kennedy Meeks said on Saturday evening. “Especially didn’t know that was Michael Jordan’s last game.”
“I don’t think most of us paid that much attention to it,” guard Nate Britt added. “We’re just worried about the present right now.”
“I didn’t know that,” guard Marcus Paige said. “[Roy] said something about the title game, so I knew that was 1981. There’s a lot of history between these two programs.”