As a die hard Tar Heels fan, I won't forget the team's exit from the NCAA tournament the past two years.
Two years ago, a previous engagement had me away from the TV receiving updates by cell phone as they collapsed against Georgetown. The updates were not coming from a Web site, they were coming from my 6-year-old son who was given instructions to call me as the score changed.
Last year, I sat in shock as I watched the Kansas Jay Hawks punch the Heels directly in the mouth to the tune of 40-12 before Carolina finally woke up. I will never forget the site of the starting five meeting before a free throw and not a single word being spoken.
They were shell shocked and, in the opinion of this writer, not prepared by their coach for what just hit them. The best and deepest team in last years tournament was about to be shown the door. They recovered to bring the score within two points, but by that time the gas tank was on empty and the Heels were done.
I read several articles and interviews today with the players discussing this years Final Four. The theme I kept reading was that they were "not taking anyone for granted" and "not going to take any plays off"
This is a good sign for Tar Heels nation. It means that this team learned from last years beat down. While the run to this years Final Four has met little resistance (like last year), they know that there is a very hungry team waiting to meet them on Saturday night. They will be more experienced and ready for the fight this time.
I also like the defense that was missing in previous years. Are they perfect and a well oiled defensive machine? No. However their offense and depth at each position will wear teams out and outscore some of the lapses which often take place. They will be there on Monday night to meet the winner of MSU and UConn.
They will be much more prepared this time around.