Appearances can be deceiving.
The Tar Heels' four-game winning streak and 2-0 start in ACC play came to a crashing halt on Saturday in anticlimactic and embarrassing fashion, as Louisville boot-stomped its way like bullies to a decisive 83-62 win to hand UNC its most lopsided home loss ever under Roy Williams. The previous worst home loss under Williams was a 69-53 loss to Duke in 2013.
"I'm a little bit at a loss, but that's OK, it happens in coaching," said Williams. "The bottom line is that they played better and they coached better."
Louisville took a 43-34 lead into halftime, which wasn't cause for concern. Sometimes UNC starts slow, even at home. But UNC never really started at all. The Cardinals flat-out took it to them -- out-rebounding, out-assisting and out-shooting the Tar Heels en route to a signature win.
"Our guys are playing their tails off," said Louisville coach Chris Mack at halftime of the broadcast. "We've been the harder-playing team."
That held true throughout, and as a result, Louisville's in business. On the heels of an overtime loss to Pitt three days ago, the Cards are 2-1 in ACC play and have, without question, a win that will age with grace. UNC, meanwhile, has a loss that only further complicates its increasingly perplexing NCAA Tournament resume.
North Carolina losing is always a story because of its blueblood history and lofty expectations on an annual basis, but this loss was as confounding as any. At a late point in the game, ESPN switched broadcasts it was so out of hand. That doesn't happen often -- if ever -- to UNC, but this game was never really in question and UNC was non-competitive.
That, too, rarely happens at a place like North Carolina.