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UNC crushes Saint Peter’s, will meet Duke in Final Four

UNC 69, St. Peter’s 49
UNC crushes Saint Peter’s, will meet Duke in Final Four
Published: Mar. 27, 2022 at 8:18 PM EDT
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — North Carolina crushed all hope of a March Madness miracle in the early going Sunday, getting 20 points and 22 rebounds from Armando Bacot in a wire-to-wire 69-49 runaway over 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s.

The eighth-seeded Tar Heels (28-9) made their record 21st Final Four, and next on their list is none other than archrival Duke and its soon-to-be-retiring coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

Next Saturday in New Orleans will mark the first Final Four meeting — first NCAA Tournament meeting, in fact — between the Tobacco Road archrivals whose campuses are separated by 11 miles.

While Coach K’s winding road to retirement has been a beauty to watch this March, nothing has captured more imaginations than the run put on by underdog Saint Peter’s. The entire basketball budget for this scrappy group from Jersey City, New Jersey, is $1.6 million — or around $400,000 less than what Tar Heels first-year coach Hubert Davis, who was sobbing as his players enveloped him after the buzzer, makes in a year.

It was an emotional evening for Davis, who replaced Roy Williams, the coach who took the Tar Heels to five Final Fours over 18 years. Now the 51-year-old Davis joins the likes of Ray Meyer, Steve Fisher and Denny Crum as rookies to reach the sport’s biggest stage.

Were it not for Saint Peter’s, maybe North Carolina would be the underdog story of this tournament. Way back when, in 1985, another 8 seed shocked the world. It was Rollie Massimino’s 1985 Villanova team.

They put a 94-81 beatdown on Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 5, it cast a cloud over what was supposed to be a celebration of Coach K’s final home game. On Sunday, they wrecked another of those so-called “perfect” story lines.

But this is more than a consolation prize for college hoops: Next, UNC and Duke meet for the 258th time — and never with the stakes so high.

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