Heels disappointed but not down

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The Tar Heels may have lost in the ACC championship game but the good news is that they proved in Brooklyn that they're built for the postseason. (WTVD)

Roy Williams said Friday night that it would have taken a near-perfect effort for his Heels to pull off their fourth win in four days and win the ACC championship. The four games bit goes without saying, but the perfection was all about his respect for Tony Bennett and Virginia.

That's basically how it played out. Could UNC have played better? Of course, but they played well given the circumstances and opposition. If a couple of those second-half three-pointers that rimmed out instead drop, then maybe we're telling a different story, but the truth is Virginia controlled the game entirely from start to finish.

Carolina's last lead was 5-2. If felt like they'd pulled a Houdini act to get to the half down just four. After a couple Garrison Brooks free throws, they had actually had the deficit down to two at one point in the second half, but the Cavaliers never wavered. They have a formula. It works, so they stick to it. Run the clock down on offense and then execute. The way the Hoos score so frequently, so late in the clock must frustrate their opponents, it's entirely demoralizing.

The Cavs defense is well documented, so all I'll say on that is that they somehow make the team with the ball look like they're holding on for dear life most possessions.

Virginia played 21 ACC games this year, they won 20 of them. The only loss came by one point, in overtime. That's as dominant a season as any team can realistically hope for in this modern ACC era. They are worthy champions, to say the least.

The good news for UNC is that the Heels proved here in Brooklyn that they're built for the postseason. Theo Pinson had a rough shooting night Saturday, but on most nights he's a conductor out there. Joel Berry proved once again that he's a big shot maker. Luke Maye kept the Heels in the game with his 15 first-half points, so worries about him after Thursday's 1-15 shooting performance can likely be put to bed. Cameron Johnson, if healthy, is a weapon and Kenny Williams is a defensive worker and more often than not, a reliable three-point gunner. The young big guys are contributing.

What Carolina has most, of course, is championship winning experience. That's invaluable now as they enter the biggest bracket.

Looking ahead: UNC, Duke, and State NCAA Tournament chances

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Mark Armstrong on UNC, Duke, and NC State's chances in the NCAA Tournament.

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