Duke, UNC begin the March
Duke and North Carolina moved on, while N.C. State got pushed out of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
The Blue Devils and Tar Heels each posted wins in their openers, with the No. 2-seeded Blue Devils beating Albany 73-61 in Philadelphia while No 8-seed UNC topped Villanova 78-71 in Kansas City for Coach Roy Williams’ 700th career victory.
But after starting the season ranked in the top 10 while being anointed the ACC favorite, No. 8 seed N.C. State saw its season end with a 76-72 loss to Temple in the East Regional at Dayton, Ohio.
Duke ended a modest two-game losing streak in NCAA Tournament play with its Midwest Regional win over America East champion Albany at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
After losing to Lehigh in its lone NCAA Tournament game a year ago, the Blue Devils (28-5) advance to play Creighton on Sunday. Duke needs a win there to reach the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 round, which it reached in 2011 before being eliminated by Arizona.
UNC advanced in the South Regional in up-and-down fashion. The Tar Heels led by 20 points in the first half only to see Villanova rally to tie the game in the second half. But UNC played well down the stretch to post the win.
The Wolfpack, which reached the Sweet 16 a year ago, fell behind by 16 points at halftime and, despite a furious late rally, couldn’t overcome the Owls.