For some people it’s April 15th. Others it’s the Tuesday after Labor Day. For me, it’s today. The worst day of the year. March 28th. To be fair, it’s not March 28th every year. Some years it’s April 4th. Others it’s March 31st. It’s kind of like Easter: A floating holiday. Except it’s not a holiday. It’s a day of mourning. It’s the end of March Madness and the beginning of March Sadness. It’s the day after Carolina loses in the NCAA Tournament.
Some years are worse than others. March 27, 1983 was particularly hard to take. The #1 ranked and defending National Champion Tar Heels, led by Michael Jordan were defeated in the regional final by a Georgia team that shot the lights out. A week later in the Final Four, the Bulldogs couldn’t hit shit and were blown out by Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack. Oh, what could have been.
In 2008, Carolina met Kansas in the Final Four. Before Tyler Hansbrough had broken a sweat, the Heels were down 40-12 on their way to a crushing defeat. So close, (not really) but yet so far. The worst day of that year was April 5th.
Today I’m lamenting how this magical season ended so abruptly. How did Kentucky rise up and bury my dreams in a rain of three pointers? How did John Henson foul out for the first time in his college career? How did the Tar Heels miss the chance to be in the most winnable Final Four in history?
This one hurts more than most. And I wasn’t sure why until I realized that this is the first time the Heels have been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in 3 years. They didn’t make it last year. So there was no disappointment. They won it all in 2009. So the last time I experienced this pain was after the Kansas loss in 2008. Believe me, it hurts.
So what keeps me going on a gray cloudy day like today? No matter how down I get, I always see a bit of Carolina blue on the horizon. Things will be much better 370 days from now. April 2, 2012. That’s when the Tar Heels will be cutting down the nets in New Orleans.