The clock has struck midnight on Saint Peter’s Cinderella run.
The No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels dominated the No. 15 Peacocks 69-49 in the East Regional Final at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday.
With the win, North Carolina sets up one of the most anticipated Final Four games in NCAA Tournament history. The Tar Heels will face rival Duke in New Orleans on Saturday in what could be Mike Krzyzewski’s final game. It will be the first time the two teams play against one another in March Madness.
Any doubt that North Carolina would do its part in setting up a Final Four matchup against Duke was put to rest in the first half against Saint Peter’s. UNC started the game on a 9-0 run, putting Saint Peter's up against its biggest deficit of the tournament just minutes into the game. Through 20 minutes, North Carolina doubled up Saint Peter’s by a 38-19 score.
Things didn’t change in the second half. The Tar Heels built a lead as big as 27 points despite a slight uptick in production from the Peacocks.
Armando Bacot was a force for the Tar Heels in the first half, racking up 15 rebounds to go along with eight points. He ended the evening with a game-high 20 points and 22 boards.
Brady Manek had 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 4-for-6 from 3-point range. Coming off a career night in the Sweet 16, Caleb Love posted 14 points.
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Offense was a struggle all night for the Peacocks. The team shot just 28.8% from the floor and made only four 3-pointers. Fousseyni Drame led the team with 12 points for the game.
North Carolina became the fourth blue blood program to reach this year’s Final Four. UNC and Duke will face off in the second tipoff on Saturday, while No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Villanova will battle in the first game. The four schools have 61 combined Final Four appearances, led by North Carolina’s 21, the most of any Division I school.
While North Carolina has reached the most Final Fours of any school, this year’s run is among its most surprising. It is the first No. 8 seed to reach the Final Four since Kentucky in 2014. The Tar Heels’ journey to the Big Easy included a blowout win over No. 9 Marquette in the first round, a thrilling overtime upset over No. 1 Baylor in the second round and a Sweet 16 win against No. 4 UCLA before dominating No. 15 Saint Peter’s on Sunday.
Even with an Elite Eight loss, Saint Peter’s put together a historic March Madness run. The Peacocks became the first team seeded No. 12 or lower to ever reach the Elite Eight. Shaheen Holloway’s squad also knocked off some blue bloods in the tournament, beating No. 2 Kentucky in the first round before shocking No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 Purdue.