North Carolina's not used to this Final Four, but it still has a chance to make history. Sort of.
If the Tar Heels win the men's NIT, they'll be the first team to win the NCAAs and NIT in consecutive years. It's hardly the kind of mark UNC's accustomed to – it's one of the few schools that counts a season without a spot in the Big Dance as a failure – but it's still neat. (If you're into random college hoops trivia, some would grumble.)
Still, the Heels are doing their best to maintain an upbeat attitude.
"We're in a position you never dreamed to find yourself, and a lot of other people never imagined a team like North Carolina would have to play in the NIT," UNC senior Marcus Ginyard told the Associated Press. "But it's just a joy for us to be able to play, and there's where a lot of the change has come. We're just happy to play, and we're more excited and more enthused out there on the court."
That's the attitude, Marcus! After all, winning the NIT still lets you end the season on a high note. Even three of the four schools in the NCAA tournament's Final Four will go home (relatively) disappointed, so what's wrong with winning the NIT?
It's akin to winning a bronze medal in the Olympics. You sleep better because you still have a medal, but don't have to agonize over just missing out on gold.
That's not sarcasm, either. I'm a firm believer in enjoying the success that comes your way, regardless of the stage. Celebrate those conference championships and NIT titles, I say. Keeps you humble and from looking like a jerk to schools that have never won anything.
Besides, there's no sense in stewing over what you don't have. May as well focus on what's ahead.
"To me it's still a championship. You just have to put out of mind it's not what you wanted," Ginyard said. "It speaks to greater life lessons, you know? You're not always going to be given what you want or put in the position that you want, but you just have to do the best you can with what you have."
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