PHILADELPHIA, P.A.- Does the revenge factor go to North Carolina or Notre Dame? After all, the Tar Heels crushed the Irish 78-47 just a couple of weeks ago in the ACC Tournament Finals. But the Irish have beaten the Heels three of the last four meetings in the series, including an embarrassing Carolina collapse earlier this season.
The Fighting Irish rallied from a 15-point deficit to upset the Tar Heels, 80-76, in South Bend on Feb. 6, 2016. UNC led 37-22 late in the first half and held a 10-point lead with 17 minutes to play. The Irish scored 23 second-chance points off 20 offensive rebounds.
“I guess if I was them, I would try to use that ACC game,” UNC’s Marcus Paige said of Notre Dame. “If it was us that got blown out, we would be talking about that nonstop up until the game, trying to get ourselves fired up for revenge.”
For their part, instead of talking about revenge, Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia simply said, “I think we can learn a lot of things from that game.”
UNC’s Joel Berry remembers that regular season game earlier this year as well as two losses to the Irish last season. “It was good to beat them like that,” he said about the ACC Tournament blow out. “But… they beat us three out of the last four. So we’ve still got to get some revenge to them, too.”
So, again, will the revenge factor help North Carolina or Notre Dame? Maybe neither.
“Revenge can’t be the only motivating factor in a game that gets you to the Final Four,” Paige said. “That’s the biggest thing. This game is to go to the Final Four. I don’t care what happened in the past.”
The Tar Heels and Fighting Irish will meet on Sunday at 8:49 p.m. for a berth in the Final Four. “This is a one-game opportunity to change your season,” Paige said.