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Tar Heels Headed for Indianapolis, Final Four

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AUSTIN, TX — Some people thought North Carolina should not be in the NCAA Tournament. But right about now, they might be thinking otherwise. A 59-55 win over Tulsa in the South Regional final sends the Tar Heels to Indianapolis.

"We shocked the world, we beat all the naysayers," says UNC center Brendan Haywood. "Every game we were favored to lose, sometimes by double digits, and we just kept on shocking everybody."

North Carolina shocks the college basketball world, capping an improbable run to the Final Four behind the clutch play of Joseph Forte. The freshman and his silky smooth stroke connects on 10 of 17 shots for a career high 28 points.

Forte is the only Tar Heel to hit double digits.

"It's been beautiful," says the UNC guard. "I couldn't have picked a better freshman year for me individually, and as a team. This is a dream season."

Forte was voted MVP, but it was Carolina's team defense that won the game.

The Tar Heels hold Tulsa to just 31 percent from the field in the second half. David Shelton shot to tie it up with under 10 seconds to go, but it does not go and Carolina wins the south 59-55.

"We tried to get out on the shooters and just make them shoot over," says UNC forward Jason Capel.

Carolina's height and size are just too much for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes are out-rebounded 40-29. Brendan Haywood pulls down eight to go along with three blocked shots and senior Ed Cota extends his career in Carolina blue. Cota, the catalyst of the offense.

"We feel we underachieved throughout the year. We didn't accomplish some of our goals but going to the final four is one of our goals and we finally got it done," says Cota.

So for the first time this season, Carolina wins four straight games. The next challenge for the Tar Heels is seeing if they can extend the streak to six.

North Carolina has made the Final Four in every decade since the 1940s. The Tar Heels are going for their fifth and the most improbable title.
  • The Tar Heels had been a No. 1 or 2 seed in their previous seven Final Fours. They had never gotten past the round of 16 with a lower seed.
  • According to the NCAA, North Carolina has one more Final Four appearance than UCLA. The governing body does not recognize the Bruins' 1980 trip, which was revoked as a punishment for rules violations.From staff and wire reports
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    Tom Crichton, Reporter
    Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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