- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The fact that two storied programs like Georgetown and North Carolina are meeting each other in the NIT shows how much the college basketball landscape has changed.
In the 1982 NCAA national championship game at the Louisiana Superdome, a skinny freshman guard, Michael Jordan, swished a 16-foot jumper from the left side with 16 seconds remaining to give the Tar Heels a 63-62 victory in one of the best finals ever played.
The play of the game was not Jordan's shot, but Georgetown guard Fred Brown's errant pass to North Carolina forward James Worthy in the closing seconds that prevented the Hoyas from attempting a game-winning shot.
Tonight at North Carolina's Smith Center, the stakes won't be nearly as high as the Hoyas (17-14) take on the Tar Heels (19-15) in the NIT quarterfinals. The winner goes to New York's Madison Square Garden for the semifinals.
Don't tell the North Carolina faithful this game doesn't mean that much. Immediately following North Carolina's 90-74 win over Wyoming Monday night that drew 20,235, Tar Heels fans began lining up to purchase tickets for Georgetown. Another crowd of 20,000-plus is expected for tonight's game.
"I'm in awe of the crowd support and it's a real compliment to the rich tradition of this program," North Carolina coach Matt Doherty said.
The excitement comes from the Tar Heels having one of the nation's most promising young teams. Freshmen Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May are three of the nation's top 12 players in the high school class of 2002 and give the Tar Heels a fresh, dynamic look. There are only two seniors on the roster reserves Jonathan Holmes and Will Johnson.
The Tar Heels are going for an NIT double. In November, North Carolina won the Preseason NIT. The Tar Heels easily beat NCAA tournament teams Kansas (67-56) and Stanford (74-57) en route to the title as they distanced themselves from last season's 8-20 disaster.
North Carolina was up and down the rest of the season, mostly because May broke his left foot against Iona on Dec.27 in the ECAC Holiday Festival. May, whose father, Scott, led undefeated Indiana to the 1976 NCAA title and later starred for the NBA's Chicago Bulls, averaged 11.4 points and a team-leading 8.1 rebounds before he went down. May will not play tonight.
With a win over Georgetown, North Carolina can clinch a 20-victory season for the 32nd time in the last 33 years.
Unheralded sophomore guard Melvin Scott has come up big for the Tar Heels. Doherty inserted Scott into the starting lineup before the Maryland game (March14) in the ACC tournament because of a foot injury to Jackie Manuel. The Tar Heels beat Maryland 84-72 and Doherty has stuck with the lineup as North Carolina has gone 3-1. Scott is coming off a career-high 20 points against Wyoming.
"Obviously, it's his shooting and taking care of the ball," Doherty said of Scott. "He has one turnover in his last 134 minutes. He's averaging 14 points per game over the last four and really stretches the defense. If he passes up a shot, he knows he'll get another one around the corner."
Mike Sweetney, Georgetown's first team All-Big East forward, creates a matchup problem inside for the Tar Heels. With May out, 6-11, 255-pound Jamaican center Damion Grant, who has played two years of organized hoops, is the only Tar Heel who can physically check Sweetney.
Doherty joked that he knows how to contain Sweetney and his 22.5 points a game.
"Couple of my buddies are coming down from New York, we'll grab Mike, hide him out in the woods around here, feed him, and then give him back to [Georgetown coach] Craig Esherick once the game is over," Doherty said.

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