2005 was our entitlement. Preseason #6 or 7. Warrick et al.'s senior year. They deserved another one. I was dating a girl who had a high school friend who was an Illinois manager. Per this guy, they had their eye on Syracuse, not UNC, all year long.
And then after the annual Edelin rough patch, SU actually improved during the course of February and March - not exactly a common thing. Watkins and Roberts came on strong. And we exorcised the UConn demons and won the Big East. It was all coming together.
The seeding, the suspensions, the floor with the dead spots, and the ridiculous travel calls that had never been called on Warrick piling up (to say nothing of the T on Roberts). It was gut-wrenching to see it all slip away like that. And it was hard not to see it as the end of an era (which it was).
That was the first year I remember the NCAA's pod set-up and funky scheduling really hurting in-person attendance. Not sure if the numbers bear that out. But we were in Miami and then maybe Memphis? Both were dead.
We really lost that one in the first half when we let up on the straight-jacket defense we'd been playing since the tournament began and gave up 35 points. The intensity returned in the second half and we gave up only 26. if we'd done that in both halves, we win.