Interesting draws for Triangle teams
Posted March 17, 2013
Updated March 18, 2013
I've been lucky enough to cover a lot of great moments in my career, and I must say, last year's NC State Selection Sunday is among my favorites.
Watching the show in the WRAL sports office was intense. It took until the very last pick for NC State to be named to the field. That's when I rushed over to campus to interview one excited group of players.
The mood is very different for the Pack this year. The team expected to be in the tournament. In fact, when this year began, the team expected to be in the Final Four.
Mark Gottfried now has the task of getting his guys fired up for one last run at expectations. "Our guys need to feel excited, which I think they are," said Gottfried. It is easy to see why NC State can't get too excited about the future too soon.
State should be able to get past its first opponent in Temple. The Owls played in a tough conference this year and played well, but the Pack has the talent edge. But waiting in the next round is No. 1 seed Indiana. This is the kind of team NC State hoped to see in Atlanta, not in week one. The Wolfpack has an opportunity to prove itself in the first weekend of this tournament. Knock off the No. 1 seed, and this team might just live up to expectations after all.
North Carolina has a similar opportunity in week one. If the Tar Heels can get past Villanova, they will get a rematch with Kansas. The NCAA sure does love to put Roy Williams up against his former team. UNC lost to Kansas in the Elite 8 last year, and they would meet them for a chance at the Sweet 16 this year.
The Tar Heels are playing with some renewed confidence following the performance in Greensboro. UNC clearly showed mental toughness in getting past the Duke loss to make it to the finals of the ACC Tournament, and they played well against tournament two-seed Miami. I wouldn't be surprised to see North Carolina playing next week.
Duke may have seen itself as a one seed last week at this time, but the Blue Devils probably didn't predict an early exit from the ACC tourney. Duke has a pretty good draw. They will play Albany on Friday, and then it's a match-up with either Cincinnati or Creighton. Both teams are decent, but shouldn't be a real problem for the Blue Devils. It would be a real upset if Duke doesn't make it to the second weekend of this tournament.
It is a really interesting year in college basketball. There is no true favorite heading into this tournament, so I don't think it would surprise any of us to see some lower seeds in the later rounds.