Monday, March 23, 2009

UNC, Duke: Road worries in NCAAs

Next year, Duke and North Carolina won’t have it so easy.

Coaches and players spent four days last week answering reporters’ questions about how playing in Greensboro Coliseum would affect the two in-state heavyweights in the first- and second-round games Thursday and Saturday.

The consensus opinion was that fans don’t win games, players do. Yet there was no denying that the home court was an advantage for both teams, particularly on Saturday.

If point guard Ty Lawson had any questions about how North Carolina’s fans feel about him, they should have been erased the moment he was introduced as part of the starting lineup against LSU. Up until that point, fans weren’t sure whether he would play because of his injured toe.

As Lawson waltzed onto the court, the roar was so loud that the Concorde could have passed through the arena and you wouldn’t have heard it.

Duke’s homecourt advantage wasn’t as significant because there were a lot of North Carolina fans cheering against the Blue Devils. But the Duke fans still drowned them out, and perhaps gave the team the energy it needed to make five huge hustle plays in the closing minutes to finish off Texas.

All week, the atmosphere was electric. Tyler Hansbrough drew a brief standing ovation from the crowd after making the free throw that broke J.J. Redick’s ACC career scoring record Thursday. Two days later, Texas football coach Mack Brown shook hands with reporters on press row who used to cover him when he was coaching the Tar Heels.

But the unfortunate thing for fans in North Carolina is that there isn’t an NCAA Tournament site anywhere near this state in 2010. First- and second-round games are set for New Orleans, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Providence, R.I.; San Jose, Calif.; Spokane, Wash.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Jacksonville, Fla.

Regionals in 2010 will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah; Syracuse, N.Y.; Houston and St. Louis. So the Tar Heels and Blue Devils will have to find a way to advance outside the state, and that hasn’t been easy recently.

Over the last four seasons, North Carolina has advanced from first- and second-round sites in Winston-Salem, Raleigh and Greensboro. The Tar Heels won a regional in Charlotte.

Away from home, North Carolina lost in the second round in Dayton, Ohio; in a regional final in East Rutherford, N.J., and in the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.

During that same period, Duke advanced from first- and second-round sites in Greensboro in both 2006 and 2009. The Blue Devils lost in the first round in Buffalo and in the second round in Washington, D.C., and were eliminated in a regional semifinal in Atlanta in 2006.

Combined, the schools were 6-0 advancing from sites inside the state, and 0-6 outside the state. That doesn’t bode well for next season.

Come to think of it, that’s not an encouraging sign as Duke (in Boston) and North Carolina (in Memphis) head to regionals outside the state this week. – Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Good...glad Duke gets to play in a true neutral environment now instead of the hostile Tarhole confines of Greensboro. Good luck, more home games left for you.

Big D Tarheel said...

Don't be a hater anonymous. If DOOK had more fans that actually bought tickets then they would have the same advantage UNC has. But, since all the grads are from NJ they have a hard time getting down here come tourney time. And people wonder why we hate DOOK sooooo much! I HOPE we play you guys in the final 4!

Anonymous said...

Everybody and their Grandmaw is a Tarhole fan! You guys don't want Duke in the Final 4. We'll send you home with you're feelings hurt! Go Duke!!

Anonymous said...

The only place you would send us is to the National Championship game. Then we'll come home and celebrate at the Dean Dome. Maybe we'll even come by Hansbrough Indoor Stadium and thank you.

Anonymous said...

Nah, Tarholes will choke against to Cuse or OU.

If Duke pulls it out, we'll be sure to stop by The Williams-Boozer-Dunleavy Dome to celebrate.

Anonymous said...

You can forget Duke getting by Villanova...Go home to Cameron where Hansbrough/Green are 4-0. Where you lost AGAIN to UNC and we swept the Dookies this year...Where poor JJ was beaten on Sr. night and now lost his scoring record to Hansbrough... Go back to "thug" practice where you break noses and throw elbows from the floor, drawing intentional fouls...You Dookies suxxxxxx

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Anonymous said...

In 2005, UNC won the east regional in Syracuse. So it does not matter where the games are played, nice try Ken.

Anonymous said...

No doubt..tarheel nation is nothing but a big bandwagon. Go Duke!

Anonymous said...

That child at 1:31 needs his mama to wash his mouth out with soap!!
Shame, shame, shame!!!

Anonymous said...

Boston is close to NJ and NY. Look for Duke fans. It costs too much to get to where ever tarholes are going.

GO, DUKE!!!!

Anonymous said...

ESPN SportsNation Question today: "Which of these Hall of Famers would you choose to coach your team in the National Championship Game?"

Jim Boeheim: 12%

Jim Calhoun: 13%

Mike Krzyzewski: 54%

Roy Williams: 21%

(Votes: 98,394)

Anonymous said...

Surprised Pitino wasn't a choice. I'd much rather have him coaching a big game than Jim "lucky I had Carmelo" Boeheim or Roy "Choke-job" Williams.