Before the tournament even started, everyone had dreams of North Carolina vs Duke in the National Championship game. Well, forget that now!
What an effort by Coach Frank Martin's bunch as they beat Duke and now head to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1973.
As for Duke, I kind of feel sorry for them. They walked into a hornets nest in Greenville, SC. These NCAA games are suppose to be on a neutral court, but Bon Secours Wellness Arena was NOT neutral. Of course, you had Gamecock Nation in full effect but you also had North Carolina fans with South Carolina gear in hand openly rooting for the garnet and black. It was crazy!
But it wasn't the fans that got Duke beat, it was their terrible defense in the 2nd half. They gave up 65 points and let South Carolina shoot 71% in the half. Both are recipes for a L and Duke got just that...
The question now is are we heading for a possible North Carolina vs South Carolina National Championship Game?
Both still have a tough road ahead.
Look at the teams left in the East bracket (Florida, Wisconsin, Baylor, and South Carolina) and they all are pretty even. South Carolina fed off the energy in the building in rounds 1 & 2 so crowd support in New York City will be huge for them. I have a feeling Gamecock Nation will represent well. Providing the fact that the Gamecocks have not been to the Sweet 16 since 1973, this is a trip 44 years in the making.
Plus, their star player is playing like a star. Former Lancaster High star Sindarius Thornwell had 29 points against Marquette and 24 against Duke. Talk about coming up big on the big stage. If this team is to make an incredible run to Arizona, Thornwell will have to be big 2 more times in the Big Apple.
As for UNC, I believe they will work out Butler and beat up the Bulldogs Friday, but whoever wins between UCLA and Kentucky will give the Heels a run for their money.
I'd love to see UNC vs Kentucky-- part 2.
These 2 played a classic December 17th with Kentucky winning 103-100. Justin Jackson had 34 points but he was one upped by Malik Monk who had 47 points.
The Heels defense was fantastic down the stretch of the Arkansas game and if they play like that in Memphis, they will ride that all the way to Arizona.
Bottom line, I give both our remaining teams a shot at making it to the Final Four, but I think both will fall in the Elite 8. That's just my opinion.
Either way, hopefully the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8 will be just as entertaining as round 1 and round 2.
March Madness has been all it was billed to be thus far and I do believe the best is yet to come and our local teams figure to play a major role. Thursday and Friday can't get here fast enough.