March Madness: UNC outperforms St. Peter's 69-49 to face Duke in Final Four
March 28, 2022
On Sunday, the eighth-seeded Tar Heels completely dominated the Saint Peter's Peacocks, defeating them 69-49 and advancing to their 21st Final Four. They shot over their opponents and overwhelmed a sold-out crowd.
Despite the loss, Saint Peter's shouldn't feel too bad. North Carolina had already crushed a lot of dreams. The Tar Heels were led by forward Armando Bacot, who had 22 points and 20 rebounds.
The Tar Heels will now face off against Duke in the Final Four, held in New Orleans. If UNC defeats Duke, it will be the last time legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski will be on the court as he prepares to retire.
"I don't think anything can be as crazy as the leadup to that game over in Cameron," UNC head coach Hubert Davis noted on the possibility to play Duke. "We just keep our eyes straight ahead and we ignore all the noise."
America's favorite underdog
During the NCAA Tournament, nothing has captivated the public more than the outstanding journey of Saint Peter's.
The Saint Peter's Peacocks were the nation's favorite underdog, a team of mostly overlooked players who had captivated the nation during the NCAA Tournament. They had also made history as the first 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight.
The team from New Jersey's Jersey City region has a budget of about $1.6 million. It's about $400,000 less than Davis makes as the head coach of the Tar Heels.
After defeating Purdue earlier in the tournament, the Peacocks were considered a Final Four material. However, their dreams were quickly dashed by the Tar Heels.
"I didn't really recognize my team for the first 10 minutes of the game," Peacocks head coach Shaheen Holloway commented on his team's performance.
When Bacot scored a basket on an offensive rebound for the Tar Heels in the first half, it gave them a 7-0 lead. The Peacocks had never trailed by more than six during their three tournament victories.
The Peacocks were able to move the ball well during the first 10 minutes of the game. However, they could not capitalize on their opportunities, and they trailed 21-7 to start the first half.
UNC's tournament journey
In the previous two years, the Tar Heels had gone 14-19. Their performance in the 2019 and 2020 NCAA Tournaments was not much better as they lost in the first round. But this season's UNC is different. The team is ready to win it all.
A week before facing the Peacocks, the Tar Heels were up against Baylor when the Tar Heels led by as many as 25 points.
In addition to a huge lead, Brady Manek was ejected for an accidental elbow. Against Saint Peter's, Manek spent most of his minutes on the sideline after scoring 19 points.
It was an emotional night for Davis, who replaced legendary coach Roy Williams. The new coach became the fifth coach in college basketball history to lead a team to the Final Four in their rookie year.
Although it was hard to believe, it wasn't about Davis. It was about the players, he said. The 51-year-old coach had been to the Final Four as a player and a coach.
In his speech to his team, Davis cited a Bible verse that says to keep their eyes on the task at hand and ignore all their distractions.
The players followed Davis' advice and sealed their lips when asked about the matchup against Duke. Bacot was asked about the Blue Devils, but he would not reveal his thoughts.