Big things are always expected among the Tobacco Road teams during hoops season, but that’s generally in reference to Duke and North Carolina.
High expectations for Charlotte are another story, but after Sunday night, the 49ers might be facing some too.
All three teams were in action Sunday night, and while the results might be the same (they all won) … the stakes and the implications are vastly different.
First off, who expected Charlotte to march into a fairly loaded field for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and emerge with the title? Well, that’s what the 49ers did, but only after Terrence Williams nearly blew it — then recovered and played the hero with 0.4 seconds left — in a 63-61 win over Michigan in the title game.
"That’s one of the most incredible basketball games I’ve ever been a part of. All three games in this tournament got sticky. … The thing that’s been the thing that’s been the most encouraging and fun for me is watching them coming together down here and just trying to be a team," Charlotte coach Alan Major said afterward.
Looks like mission accomplished from here.
The Tar Heels also won a title Sunday night, against stiffer competition and with no need of last-minute heroics. But when you have their bloodlines, a No. 24 UNC team beating a No. 3 Louisville isn’t a monumental upset — even if they are the defending champs.
Marcus Paige led the way for UNC, scoring a career-high 32 in the 93-84 win in the Hall of Fame Tipoff final.
He also gave a hint at what motivated the Tar Heels — last week’s loss to Belmont. Specifically, having to re-watch that ugly affair.
"We had a bad taste in our mouth, cause we had to watch the whole film of the Belmont game," Paige said.
As for Duke? Well, they added another W, but you can bet Coach K wasn’t too happy that his sixth-ranked team allowed Vermont to shoot 64.8 percent from the field and needed a Jabari Parker free throw in the closing seconds to escape 91-90.
We could poke fun, but we’ll just let Coach K sum it up.