Duke. North Carolina. It’s always a big, blue-blooded, rival matchup.
Some may wonder if the two squads have ever met in the NCAA Final Four. They haven’t– indeed, the two teams with 11 championships among them have never met in the NCAA Tournament.
Now, a spot in the championship game is on the line. No. 8 seed North Carolina will be the underdog versus the No. 2 seed Duke (32-6) team stocked with NBA draft picks like Paulo Banchero, Mark Williams and AJ Griffin.
An upset on Saturday would spell the end of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching history as he will retire. Coach K won all five Duke titles, including most recently in 2015. Winning a final title would be a fairytale ending.
“This is the GOAT right here.”
“No, no. Shut up.”
This Coach K postgame interview was amazing 😂 pic.twitter.com/zrxSR36Zdz
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 27, 2022
Coach K has led Duke since 1980. Meanwhile, UNC head coach Hubert Davis is in his first year as head honcho. The former Roy Williams assistant spent much of the season on the tournament bubble. Back on Feb. 5, the Tar Heels lost 87-67. But the win to spoil Coach K’s final home game cemented his team’s spot in the tournament.
Strong performances from Armando Bacot and Jacob Love were the key differences between the Feb. 5 87-67 loss and March 5 win.
Hubert, the first African American to lead the UNC men’s basketball program, made rounds on Twitter for the care he expressed for his players after the Elite Eight victory over St. Peters.
UNC coach Hubert Davis overcome with emotion as his team celebrates a trip to the Final Four:
“I just desperately wanted this for them. I love these guys so much.” pic.twitter.com/7ueZOn0eW4
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 27, 2022
He now goes for the first Tar Heel title since 2017.
It will be interesting to see the ratings for this historic game. Around the country, fans, celebrities and politicians alike are expressing excitement for the big game.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made a proclamation declaring his state of him as the center of the college basketball universe.
North Carolina is ᴏꜰꜰɪᴄɪᴀʟʟʏ the center of the college basketball universe. pic.twitter.com/6XIiSkoqaF
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) March 31, 2022
Moreover, country star Eric Church canceled his sold-out San Antonio concert to attend the game with his family.
ALSO: ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale shares his memories from his 35 years of calling UNC-Duke games
Below are some players to watch for, along with tournament results so far for each team:
paolo banchero6-foot-10 forward
- The top scorer for the Blue Devils, Banchero has averaged 18.5 points a game during the NCAA Tournament
- ACC Rookie of the Year
- ESPN projects Banchero as the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft
Mark Williams7-foot Center
- ACC Defensive Player of the Year; he’s had 16 blocks in four tournament games so far
- Williams has averaged 14.5 points a game with an efficient 80.6 field goal percentage during March Madness
- No. 21 pick in the NBA Draft, according to ESPN
AJ Griffin, 6-foot-6 forward
How They Got Here:
d. No. 15 seed CSU Fullerton 78-61
d. No. 7 seed Michigan State 85-76
d. No. 3 seed Texas Tech 78-73
d. No. 4 seed Arkansas 78-69
Armando Baccot, 6-foot-10 forward
- Exploded for 20 points and 22 rebounds last game against St. Peters
- Still, high scores are not stranger to Bacot; he’s posted double digits in every game since Feb. 17
- 23 points against Duke last time they played- however, Bocat scored 12 points during the Feb. 5 loss
Caleb Love, 6-foot-4 Guard
- Posted30 points versus UCLA in Sweet 16
- Averages 37.1 3-point percentage
- Scored 22 points in the victory over Duke, but only 8 in the loss
How They Got Here:
d. No. 9 seed Marquette 95-63
d. No. 1 seed Baylor 93-86 (OT)
d. No. 4 seed UCLA 73-66
d. No. 15 seed St. Peters 69-49
how to watch
When: Tipoff is set for Saturday at 8:49 pm following the conclusion of two-seeded Villanova versus one-seeded Kansas.
Channel/Website: The game will air live on TBS and stream through NCAA.com.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Blue Devils a 68.5% chance of winning on Saturday.