In one corner of the Greensboro Coliseum locker room sat Brice Johnson, a sophomore forward and — in some ways — North Carolina’s emotional barometer.
His ferocious, gut-clearing screams after dunks are his trademark. And after losses, his outward disappointment is equally inescapabale. Don’t tell him that the ACC Tournament doesn’t matter, that UNC would go on to earn an NCAA Tournament bid regardless — a No. 6 seed in the East Region, as decided by the selection committee Sunday night.
“We all want to win,” he said after fourth-seeded UNC fell to fifth-seeded Pittsburgh 80-75 in the ACC tournament quarterfinals Friday. “We’re not just going to come here and lay down and not play.”
The big dance at a glance
UNC’s tournament seed this year
UNC’s tournament seed last year
UNC’s record this year
All-time NCAA tourney appearances
Final Fours — more than any other school
Final Fours under Roy Williams
NCAA Tournament wins for Williams
A few feet away from Johnson stood redshirt senior Leslie McDonald, fastening a red tie. He had played poorly Friday — fouling out with zero points to his name — but, then again, no one else had played particularly well, minus a last-minute 3-point barrage from point guard Marcus Paige.
McDonald has been through this before — the disappointment and, then later, the rebirth. The Tar Heels (23-9) will have the chance to redeem themselves Friday in San Antonio, taking on No. 11-seed Providence (23-11).