Saturday, March 26, 2016


Even the rims wore Carolina blue last night, under the orange camouflage.

You thought that every time a shot shimmied around the rim and fell through, or kicked high off it and fell through, or was otherwise treated with kindness by that circle of iron. Even North Carolina's misses weren't misses. And thereby hangs last night's tale.

When a basketball team hangs a century on you, shoots 52 percent and a profoundly ill 55 (11 of 20) from beyond the arc, the first assumption might be that you played turnstile defense. And yet, to the naked eye at least, that wasn't the case last night in Indiana's 101-86 loss to top-seeded Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Hoosiers guarded people, or tried to. They contested the vast majority of all those shots. They still went in.

When that happens, of course, and you're a fan of the team it happened to, the tendency is always not to give credit, to say "Well, if we'd done this ... or this ... or this." No fan ever wants to credit the other team for just being too good.

But that's our tale here. Carolina, whom many hoopheads consider to have the best talent in the country, simply played to its level, and perhaps beyond. The Tarheels were simply too good, at least for 40 minutes last night.

If they play like that from here on out, they'll be cutting down the nets on April 4. No one left in the field is going to beat them, or even come close.

And Indiana?

Carolina guarded the perimeter so well the Hoosiers could never get off a three that wasn't hurried, and if the threes aren't falling, they're a team looking at an intimidating mountain climb. Yogi Ferrell must then drive and deal, and Thomas Bryant must take charge inside, and while both did that bravely, it wasn't going to be enough against a team as gifted and multi-faceted as Carolina, especially when that team is so demonstrably on its game.

And so, the Hoosiers go out, in Tom Crean's best coaching year. Nothing that happened last night can erase that. Crean's Hoosiers simply ran up against a better team having a great night.

No ifs, ifs or ifs about it.

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