Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tribe Pride.

March is here. And with it comes all the Madness.

Less than one short year ago, the Carolina Tar Heels cut down the nets and brought the trophy home to Chapel Hill. But this year's team wasn't quite able to live up to those same standards. When the brackets for the Big Dance were announced, the defending national champs were, predictably, not invited. But they did find themselves as hosts in the NIT. And so the season continues.

Now switch scenes completely to the tiny hamlet of Williamsburg, home of the second oldest school in the nation. Who knew when William & Mary was founded in 1693 that it would take 317 years for them to earn only their second invitation to the NIT...ever? For the Tribe, simply making it into the NIT is a really big deal. So when the selections were announced late Sunday night, I was thrilled to see the Green and Gold pop up onto the screen. Until I saw their matchup in the first round: Carolina. The Tar Heels. In Chapel Hill. Oh snap.

Erich really surprised me with his interest in the game. It turns out that because of renovations currently taking place at the Dean Dome, the game was to be played in Carmichael...a.k.a. Michael Jordan's former playground. A rare treat indeed to see the men's team play in Carmichael anymore. So when Monday morning rolled around, Erich and I quickly decided that ordering tickets (if we were able) was a no-brainer.

Thanks to a renewed membership in the Tribe Club, our connections in Williamsburg produced two tickets for last night's big game. So one infectious diseases clinic, four knee replacements, and one hip revision later, we hit the road for Chapel Hill.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, we love a road trip. And this one was no exception. With a little music from 'Jump, Little Children' playing in the background, the trip seemed to take hardly any time at all. When we first arrived, we decided to take a nice, spring-evening walk through campus with Erich giving me a great tour.

The famous Bell Tower tolled as we walked past. It really is beautiful. How strange to be in Chapel Hill, preparing myself to root against the Tar Heels?!

And of course, there's the Old Well. The classic symbol of the University of North Carolina. Clearly, Erich was happy to be back! We wandered around enjoying the feel of a college campus in springtime, and we eventually made our way to Pepper's Pizza on much-loved Franklin Street. Hard to beat the taste of that pizza + a cold beer just before a college basketball game.

After dinner, we made our way over to Carmichael. I have to admit - it was nice to see lots of Green and Gold everywhere. I instantly knew there couldn't be a bad seat in the house - the arena is so classic and very intimate. But I'm not sure that either of us expected to be sitting right behind William & Mary's the 8th row! It was great. Very cool to see the Tribe well-represented, and equally cool to see the beleaguered Heels and good ol' Roy get plenty of love from their hardcore fans in spite of their challenging season.

From the opening tip, the game was insane. And the roar of the crowd was absolutely deafening. The Tribe looked so scared at the start, and Carolina took advantage with a huge run. But the boys in Green fought back, and believe it or not, it was actually a great game. Truly, William & Mary was David to Carolina's Goliath. The difference in height and athleticism was amazing.

But the Tribe hung tough. They made it rain in the second half, 3-pointers shot from all around the arc - nothing but net. And for that reason, the game's outcome was really uncertain until maybe a minute remained. The boys in Green and Gold simply couldn't hang with the former national champs. But they fought the good fight. Final score: UNC 80, W&M 72.

And so the Heels fight on! Both Erich and I agreed before the game started that neither of us could really lose. We both respect each other's schools so much, and we happily cheer for the other's team...except in the incredibly rare instance when they actually play each other! At the end of the day, there was nothing but love - for both teams (and yes, also for each other). Best $40 we've spent in a long, long time.

1 comment:

  1. SO FUN! Not sure we'll get a chance like that again for a long time. It is too bad that one of those teams had to lose, because the game really was fantastic. Thanks baby!