They say payback is a ... well, it’s not appropriate to write here what people say payback is, but revenge is a lot like payback and they say revenge is a dish best served cold. I’ve never really known what that means but if it’s true, the Tar Heels’ recent win over the Wolfpack was a Hungry Man-sized frozen dinner straight from the freezer.
Let me take y’all on a trip back to early 1992. I was still young, wearing rayon shirts and Fila sneakers with the strap undone and the coolest thing I owned was a subscription to Eastbay Catalog.
Surprise to nobody, I was already a Carolina fanatic. Coach Smith was a decade removed from his first National Championship and still a season away from his second but I was excited about our basketball team. We had Eric Montross, Donald Williams, George Lynch and the nucleus of the 1993 title team plus Hubert Davis.
Going into the Jan. 22, 1992, game in Raleigh against NC State, UNC was 13-2 and coming off consecutive double digit wins against Wake Forrest, Maryland and Villanova. The Wolfpack meanwhile were 7-6 and their fans were just whispering the first of their now infamous stories about how good the Chris Corchiani and Rodney Monroe “Fire & Ice” days were.
That didn’t stop a NC State senior by the name of Tom Gugliotta from scoring 36 points, snagging 8 rebounds and handing out 5 assists in what was a rivalry loss for my beloved Heels. Apparently the Wolfpack were spent after the win because they proceeded to lose nine straight games.
UNC on the other hand took it as a wake up call, winning five of their next six including a victory over a top-ranked Duke team.
Not that it mattered because exactly one month and nine losses after State had beaten Carolina in Raleigh, they went to Chapel Hill and did it again.
I couldn’t believe it. They had beaten us when they shouldn’t have, lost to every team they played and then managed to beat us again. The Tar Heels record against NC State since that second matchup in 1992 has been 49-11 (yes I counted) and I still wasn’t over the loss until recently.
In what has been a Carolina basketball season that’s served primarily to remind us Tar Heels what it’s like to be a Wolfpack fan, we got the full experience last week. UNC had beaten State and then lost every game they had until playing, and beating, State again.
Now that’s ice cold.