UNC Ends Saint Peter's Cinderella Run; Will Face Duke in 2022 Men's Final FourMarch 27, 2022
The stage is now set for perhaps the biggest installment of college basketball's biggest rivalry.
North Carolina ended Saint Peter's Cinderella story as the No. 8 Tar Heels beat the 15th-seeded Peacocks 69-49 in the Elite Eight of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Sunday.
As a result, Carolina will play Duke in the national semifinals, the first time the schools have faced off in the NCAA tournament. For the Tar Heels, it's an opportunity to once again spoil Mike Krzyzewski's final season with the Blue Devils.
A tournament that has seen a number of unexpected upsets will have four mainstays making up the semifinals.
Armando Bacot, F, North Carolina: 20 points, 22 rebouds, one assist, two blocks
Brady Manek, F, North Carolina: 19 points, eight rebounds, one assist
Caleb Love, G, North Carolina: 14 points, four rebounds, four assists
Daryl Banks III, G, Saint Peter's: seven points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal
North Carolina Overwhelms Underdog
Armando Bacot only had eight points in the first half, but he had been by far the most dominant player in the game to that point. His 15 rebounds were only four short of the overall total for Saint Peter's, and he had five boards on the offensive glass.
The Peacocks had no answer for the 6'10" forward inside.
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Bacot is itching to have a field day as <a href="https://twitter.com/UNC_Basketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UNC_Basketball</a> gives St. Peter’s their biggest deficit of the tournament! 🤑<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/MarchMadnessMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MarchMadnessMBB</a>) <br> <a href="https://t.co/JULFzPFvby">pic.twitter.com/JULFzPFvby</a>
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Love to Bacot connection 🔥<a href="https://twitter.com/UNC_Basketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UNC_Basketball</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MarchMadness?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MarchMadness</a> <a href="https://t.co/SJZ0Gnxg2H">pic.twitter.com/SJZ0Gnxg2H</a>
Brady Manek's three-point shooting and Caleb Love's work off the dribble were helping to pace the offense.
This was a one-sided game from start to finish as North Carolina showed no mercy toward the sentimental favorite.
And unlike their overtime victory over Baylor, there was no steady collapse from the Tar Heels to gift Saint Peter's a second chance. They did take their foot off the gas midway through the second half, but there was never much doubt about the outcome.
Looking ahead to the next round, North Carolina is unlikely to see the kind of defensive press the Peacocks deployed once they had nothing to lose. But Hubert Davis might be a little concerned with how much his offense sputtered down the stretch.
Offense Dries up for Peacocks
Field-goal percentage offered a worrying trend for head coach Shaheen Holloway. The Peacocks shot 50.9 from the field in their first-round upset over Kentucky. That number dipped to 41.5 percent in the second round against Murray State and then 38.9 percent in the Sweet 16 against Purdue.
Saint Peter's no longer had the element of surprise, and there was only so much Holloway and his staff could do to scheme around the talent gap.
On Sunday, it quickly became apparent the Peacocks' Cinderella story entering its final chapter. North Carolina scored the first nine points of the game, and Saint Peter's first field goal didn't arrive until 4:08 into the contest.
By halftime, the Tar Heels doubled up their opponents, 38-19.
One loss doesn't nullify the most improbable run ever in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. A few weeks ago, Saint Peter's was a nonentity to the vast majority of fans. It took just three games for the Peacocks to crack the national consciousness.
What Holloway and his players achieved won't be soon forgotten.
Duke and North Carolina split their two previous meetings this season. The Blue Devils will want to exact some revenge on their rivals after the Tar Heels handed Coach K a defeat in his last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.