UNC notes: matchups, brackets, black hair

March, 14, 2012
Some leftover nuggets and quotes from Tuesday’s basketball availability at UNC ….

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Creighton coach Greg McDermott wasn’t happy when he saw his team’s No. 8 seed in the Midwest. He said Sunday night he thought it deserved better positioning – but that the NCAA opted to create a potential second-game storyline between former high school teammates Doug McDermott (his son and star player) and UNC forward Harrison Barnes, instead.

Barnes’ reaction Tuesday to the possible matchup: “It would be great to see Doug again. He texted me last night, and said, ‘How crazy is it, how the brackets turned out this year?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I know, right?’ So it would be good to see him again, obviously both of us need to make it past the first round.”

The players’ high school squad went 53-0 and won two Iowa state titles in their junior and senior seasons. Now college sophomores, the 6-foot-8 Barnes was a first-team All-ACC selection this season after leading his team with 17.3 ppg. The 6-7 McDermott was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, and the nation’s third-leading scorer at 23.2 ppg.

Creighton will need to beat Alabama on Friday, while the top-seeded Tar Heels will need to get past Lamar or Vermont, in order for the former teammates to match up in Sunday’s Round of 32.

“We’ve been texting a lot this year, staying in contact,’’ Barnes said. “Obviously, our families are close; my sister is good friends with his sister. It would be good for me to see him and his family, and some of the other players on that team.”

BRACKETBUSTER?: Senior forward Tyler Zeller never has filled out an NCAA tournament bracket, not even in high school. Why?

“I was actually a very weird child,’’ he said. “I’ve never been a sports fan. I don’t know why. I like watching games, but I’ve never followed teams, never had a favorite team. My little brother [Cody, who plays for Indiana] is phenomenal at it, though, I will say that.”

Barnes, meanwhile, used to fill out a bracket, but no more. “Once you become part of it, you’re always biased,’’ he said. “I’d pick us every time.”

LEARNING FROM FOOTBALL: When Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, a graduate of UNC, was asked for his reaction on the NCAA sanctions levied on UNC’s football program Monday, he said: “It’s hard.”

Then he paused, saying he wanted to think about his answer.

“As an alum, and as a person who loves North Carolina, and what athletics represent in North Carolina, it’s been a sad time. But we’ve had some problems in the past and the University has bounced back tremendously, the athletics department has bounced back tremendously. And I think what we have to do is learn from it, and move on. There’s nothing you can do to change it, but let’s learn from it, and move on."

The sanctions included a 2012 postseason ban and three years probation.

NEXT UP: UNC won’t learn whether it will play Lamar or Vermont until Wednesday night, after those two teams match up at 6:40 p.m. ET in Dayton, Ohio. But Williams said that’s not much of a disadvantage for his team, because it usually doesn’t start preparing for a specific opponent until the day before the game, anyway.

UNC point guard Kendall Marshall said he’ll be watching the play-in game, for sure.

“I like to be aware of my opponent, even if it’s just the color of their jersey,’’ Marshall said. “Just to be able to play mental images in my mind of the game, things I want to look forward to. I’m excited. They’re two teams in the tournament for a reason.”

QUOTE-WORTHY: What does Williams remember about “Black Sunday” in 1979, when UNC and Duke both lost in the NCAA Round of 32 in the same day, in Raleigh?

“I remember I had black hair,’’ he said.

“It was a bad day. It’s hard to believe, because we’d had a pretty doggone good year, and everybody’s talking about what a great advantage it was playing Raleigh. But it didn’t work that day, the building didn’t beat those other teams that day, either. But I just remember a sorry feeling.”

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.



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