DEAN E. SMITH CENTER/ CHAPEL HILL—Sportsfans, I hope you made a whole day and evening of it and, after you watched North Carolina hold off Pittsburgh for their sixth straight win, found a place to settle in at dinner time to watch Duke escape Maryland by little more than the width of the rim and Syracuse somehow edge North Carolina State almost in spite of themselves. This was one of the more scintillating days of local basketball you're likely to see, and UNC's hard-won mid-afternoon victory was just the soup appetizer in a three-course hoop prix fixe that ended nuts.
In other words, the game in Chapel Hill is the easy part of today's Triangle basketball report.
UNC’s 17th-ranked women’s team (18-6, 6-4 ACC), fresh off its shocking upset at No. 3 Duke on Monday night, will take on new ACC member Pittsburgh in only the schools’ second meeting ever.
Pitt is undergoing some growing pains, currently 10-14 and 2-8 in its first season under Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Suzie McConnell-Serio. But the Panthers’ plane landed at RDU at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday and they’re ready to go.
Tonight is UNC’s “Play4Kay” breast-cancer awareness night, and despite the snow there are about as many fans in the building as for most games when the Tar Heels’ don’t play a marquee opponent. A lot of them are in pink.
Andrew Calder continues to run the team on the sidelines as UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell undergoes treatment for leukemia.
Tonight the Tar Heels say their goodbyes early, rolling to an 86-50 victory.
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State can reach a milestone the experts thought might not happen this season, and if it happens it will come way early.
First-year Wolfpack coach Wes Moore has exceeded all expectations in his first season at the helm, as State (19-3, 6-2 ACC) is ranked No. 14 in the country heading into tonight’s contest with ancient rival Wake Forest (12-10, 3-6). State, which had been picked 10th in the conference, has its highest ranking since the 2001 season.
The Deacons are playing well with three wins in their last five games, including a 24-point romp over No. 23 Florida State on Sunday. The Wolfpack won the first meeting 62-54 on Jan. 12 in Winston-Salem. Wake has freshman guard Mykia Jones, who played on the state 4A champions for Millbrook last season.
It’s a close game almost from start to finish, with the Wolfpack holding on for a 74-67 victory.
DEAN E. SMITH CENTER/CHAPEL HILL—I spent some time yesterday morning reading about Len Bias, the most (in)famous player in the history of Maryland basketball. I was thinking about Lefty Driesell, and Buck Williams, and Albert King, and Walt "The Wizard" Williams, and if you don't know who those people are you're helping to prove a point, massing here and illustrated thus:
After UNC beat Maryland, 75-63, in one of the more boring games I've attended in quite some time (over early, in retrospect, after the Tar Heels raced out to an early 19-3 lead and then milked it for 35 minutes), Carolina head coach Roy Williams gave his five minutes to the media, looking quite ready to get out of there as quickly as possible, i.e. he was folding up and pocketing his stat sheet even as he was giving his final answer to a question, which if I recall was about his latest dizzy spell. Jokes were made about his spins, Roy was in fine fettle—why wouldn't he be, after his left-for-dead team won its fourth straight game?—and just seconds after he departed, in came Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon.
Turgeon happens to be one of Williams' former assistants at Kansas, and Maryland was playing its last game in Chapel Hill as a (charter!) member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. So there was plenty to ask him about beyond the game itself.
But college sports, big-time as they have grown, are really still very provincial, to the point of something close to myopia. As Turgeon came to the podium, nearly the entire press contingent stampeded out of the media room to go into the UNC clubhouse and interview the Tar Heels' players. Turgeon quipped, "Where you guys going?"
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Super Sunday starts a little early for Triangle women’s basketball with a much-anticipated rematch.
The last meeting came in last season’s regional final in Norfolk, with the Irish winning 87-76 to end the Blue Devils’ season in the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth year in a row.
Notre Dame’s superstar from last season, point guard Skylar Diggins, is now in the WNBA. Duke is playing short in the backcourt, with Chloe Wells missing her fifth straight game with a bruised shin.
Today it doesn’t go well at all for the Blue Devils, as the Irish lead from wire-to-wire and win 88-67. Notre Dame wins its third straight road game against a Top 10 team for the first time in school history. And Duke’s 42-game home-court conference win streak is over.