LAHAINA, Hawaii – After demolishing their first six opponents by an average margin of 29 points, putting up 100 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2011 and with the 3rd ranked Hoosiers waiting for them next week, Wednesday’s Maui Invitational championship game against 16th ranked Wisconsin could be the perfect set up for the Tar Heels to fall victim to the quintessential trap game. But don’t expect North Carolina to look past the Badgers. They still have a score to settle.
“It would be great for us to win, Tar Heel forward Justin Jackson said after the game with Joel Berry nodding approvingly. Wisconsin knocked us out two years ago. So, of course, the title would be great.”
Jackson is referring to the 2015 NCAA Tournament where the Badgers beat the Tar Heels in the Sweet 16 on their way to the Final Four and every starter in Tuesday’s game except for sophomore Kenny Williams was there to witness it.
So as North Carolina’s schedule progressively gets more difficult, expect them to channel motivation from different sources. Does that mean they’ll give Wisconsin the same business they’ve given their previous six opponents? No. The season is still early and the Tar Heels have shown they still have some growing to do with their struggles against Hawaii over the weekend, but if things get tight, know they haven’t forgotten two years ago. And although beating Wisconsin won’t serve as absolute vindication, it would at least be a little revenge for the juniors and seniors who played on UNC’s 2015 tournament team.