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Tar Heels can make history with NIT title

March 31, 2010 | 12:45 pm

North Carolina has the chance to become the first team to follow an NCAA national championship with a National Invitation Tournament title the very next year.

Unc_300 OK, it's not quite what Florida accomplished a couple of years ago, but after the season the Tar Heels endured, I'm sure Coach Roy Williams will take it.

Tuesday night, North Carolina advanced to face Dayton in the NIT final Thursday night at Madison Square Garden by defeating Rhode Island, 68-67, in overtime.

The Tar Heels have won four straight in the NIT after entering the tournament at 16-16, following a 62-58 loss to Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC tournament.

Williams said the biggest reason for his team's recent turnaround is increased intensity on defense.

Just think what might have happened if the NCAA had expanded the tournament to 96 teams this year, like it is reportedly considering for the future.

Of course, there is another possible reason for the Tar Heels' recent success -- they're playing in the NIT!!!

Anyway, Williams is being a good sport about the situation, saying it would be a wonderful feeling to win the NIT title.

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: Roy Williams coaches the Tar Heels. Credit: Marvin Gentry / US Presswire.