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The Daily Tar Heel

Everything's Going to Be Just Fine

At 6:01 EST, as a bunch of South Carolinians were dancing on the floor at Littlejohn Coliseum, a whole bunch of commotion was made when thousands of Franklin Street revelers got refunds on their plane tickets for Minneapolis.

Yes, the Tar Heel bandwagon will slowly start to empty, and the sulking of the soon-to-be former occupants will all sound the same:

Matt Doherty is no longer our deity.

About 222 people want their votes for Julius Peppers back.

Joseph Forte sucks.

As the unofficial voice of reason at the University, I have one simple message to those of you who are now crying into your pillows because you think Duke is going to walk away with the ACC and NCAA titles:

Get a life. Please.

One, Sunday's game meant nothing. The college basketball regular season is as meaningless as the NBA's or the NHL's. Nothing happens until teams start getting eliminated. Nobody -- not even our friends in Thunder Bay, Ontario or Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan -- gives a rat's ascot about hockey games in November because the Stanley Cup can't be won until June.

Likewise, the ad wizards at the NCAA copyrighted the phrase "March Madness" for a reason. A win or a loss on Feb. 18 does nothin' for nobody -- unless some god-awful, orange-wearing, feline-worshiping program finally wins a game worth remembering.

Your beloved Tar Heels are no longer the No. 1 team in the land but are still the top dog in the ACC, and their claim of the No. 1 seed in the East Regional of the NCAAs hasn't really gone anywhere. Duke has two losses in the conference, UNC one.

Barring any losses at home to Florida State or something like that, the winner of the season series between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels should get the East's top billing.

If UNC beats Duke at home and then at least makes it to the finals of the ACCs (where it would probably face Duke again), the Tar Heels deserve the right not to have to play in the South.

Sunday's game did nothing to hinder UNC's chances at that.

Two, y'all flipped that car for a reason, remember? The loss doesn't erase anything that has happened thus far this season. UNC still beat Maryland and Wake Forest twice, Virginia once and Duke at Cameron Indoor.

Teams don't start sucking all of the sudden. The Clemson game was a statistical anomaly. Forte shot 31.6 percent from the floor; Peppers only had two points; the whole team only made 38.5 percent of its shots, 30.8 percent from behind the arc; and on and on.

Joseph "I am the greatest" Forte certainly wasn't, but the Tar Heels aren't used to that so no one picked up the slack.

These things are bound to happen, especially considering how well the Tar Heels had been playing of late. Good teams, great teams even, come down to Earth for a spell.

Three, remember what your mom or dad or fifth-grade bully used to say: what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Put it this way: after seeing Duke lose to Virginia, are you less afraid of them, or more so?

The Clemson loss should scare UNC's opponents in much the same way. Who would want to play the Tar Heels when they're angry?

A little adversity now is better than a lot in about a month.

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Matt Terry can be reached at