In an occurrence that many thought could not or would not happen, North Carolina faced Duke in the Final Four on Saturday night. The arch rivals have met countless times, but never in the NCAA Tournament until now.
The talk all season has been Duke coach Mike Kryzewski’s final season before retirement. It has been nauseating at times. No team who has played them has thought about that, of course, especially the Tar Heels. The game itself lived up to its lofty expectations. It was a tight contest throughout, with neither team possessing a lead larger than single digits. It was a game for the ages, no doubt, worthy of being one of the best in this storied rivalry – if not one of the best in the NCAA Tournament.
Now, you may be reading this and thinking, “I thought this guy was an N.C. State fan?” That is very true. It’s also true that, well before my years in Raleigh, I was raised a UNC fan by my mother and late grandmother. The latter being an alumnae and lifelong fan. Also, having graduated from N.C. State as well as being raised a Tar Heel fan, my hatred for Duke is double.
While the media folks wanted to make this all about Coach K – even after UNC won the game – it was clear that the better team prevailed Saturday night and will now meet Kansas to play for its seventh NCAA Championship in school history.
When he retired, Roy Williams never wanted the pomp and circumstance surrounding it. Now, his two former teams and coaches who succeeded him will compete for college basketball glory while Coach K’s career is over and his Blue Devils squad is heading back home. You couldn’t script a better story than this.
Photo Courtesy: Resul Mentes via Unsplash