Every championship team has it. A win at some point in their season that when we are hoarse and delirious at the welcome home ceremony we remember was “that game” which told us this team was special.
In 1993 it was the Florida State game in Chapel Hill where UNC trailed big at halftime which led to Sam Cassell running down the tunnel wagging his tongue at the camera. In the second half, UNC solved the FSU defense and a George Lynch steal and dunk gave the Heels the lead for good. It was a jaw dropping moment, one that every die hard UNC fan can tell you where he or she was when they watched that game unfold.
During the 2005 season it was clearly the Duke game in Chapel Hill. This game ranks as one of the all time great games in UNC history. UNC fell behind by nine with three minutes left before engineering a gutsy comeback capped off by the Marvin Williams three point play. Like the FSU game 12 years before, it was an electric moment in Smith Center and a legendary part of that title season.
Now the criteria for such a win is as follows:
- It must be a home game since that gives you that incredible moment when the crowd goes insane.
- A rally of some sort must occur or some kind of definitive “As God as my witness we are not going to lose this game” moment occurs.
- The opponent must be either an upper tier ACC team or a heated rival.
Given those aspects here are the likely bets for the “Team of Destiny” Win in order of schedule:
NC State, January 12th
NCSU comes in smoking hot looking to win their ACC opener. J.J. Hickson scores big in the first half and UNC has no answer for Gavin Grant and Brandon Costner. Wayne Ellington goes cold and Lawson gets in foul trouble forcing UNC to rely on Quentin Thomas for most of the first half. Tyler Hansbrough is frustrated by a Wolfpack zone and Hickson guarding him. And the whole UNC team in general seems freaked out by the fact Sidney Lowe is dressed like a giant tomato. In the second half, Lawson returns and begins to shred the Wolfpack defense but it is not until a three by Danny Green followed by a Lawson steal and assist to Wayne Ellington for a layup that hangs on the rim before falling in that sets of a firestorm rally that gives UNC the win.
Duke, February 6th
UNC opens up an early lead on Duke but quickly succumbs to one of those annoying defensive lapses which results in Duke lighting it up from three point range to open up a nine point lead. Kyle Singler hits a three at the end of the first half setting of an orgy of chest bumping among the Duke players as they head to the locker room. The Duke lead grows to 16 early in the second half before Will Graves hits an open three to cut it 13. The Heels then clamp down on the perimeter defense causing Duke to go completely cold. Tyler Hansbrough simply takes over from there fouling Greg Zoubek and Lance Thomas out while wittling the lead down to one with under a minute left. Gerald Henderson, who just would really like to get off the court before Hansbrough decides to rip his arms off, misses a pair of free throws and Lawson brings the ball upcourt. Roy Williams calls the same play that failed in the game at Duke in 2005 only this time Lawson makes a clean pass to Ellington who gets off a sweet jumper at the buzzer to win the game.
Clemson, February 10th
Clemson hits the floor at the Smith Center determined to end the long losing streak in Chapel Hill. Clemson comes out like gang busters running up a huge lead in the first half that UNC manages down to single digits at halftime. In the locker room following Roy biting the head off a live chicken, Tyler Hansbrough in a rare vocal moment says there is no way on earth they are losing to Clemson in Chapel Hill, not while there is breath in his body. Hansbrough then proceeds to score 20 points in the second half and UNC blows the doors of Clemson during the second stanza.
Florida State, March 4th
Nah. No way it happens to them again.