According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, UNC is on track to get the #1 seed in the East regional and play the first 2 rounds in Winston-Salem, NC. What surprises me about this is that the committee may also put Duke in Winston-Salem as the #2 seed in the South regional. If the Matchmakers of March want the Dookies to advance, this is a bad idea.
The first reason is fairly obvious: Duke matches up badly against the #1 seed in the region , Florida. The Gators have too much depth and size on their team for the Devils to keep up. The second reason is that putting UNC and Dook in the same building anywhere outside of Durham puts the Devils at a serious disadvantage (not that I’m complaining). Outside of the small enclave in Durham, the entire state of North Carolina, and even part of South Carolina, bleeds Carolina Blue, and 80% of the stadium would thus be cheering as loud as they can for Dook’s opponent; it will become essentially a home game for #7 seed West Virginia, #10 seed Northern Iowa, or #15 seed Vermont. Add to the fact that none of these teams are pushovers to begin with, and the Dookies would be in very serious trouble.
If you are suspicious about this phenomenon, not only have I witnessed it before, I have been an active participant. In 2005 (the year we won it all!) I attended the 1st and 2nd round regional matchups in Charlotte, NC. The Tar Heels were the #1 seed in the East, and the Dookies were the #1 team in the South. In each game played at the Charlotte Coliseum, the Stadium was filled with about 75%-85% UNC fans, and 15-25% all other fans. Obvoiusly this boded well for the Heels, but it was also a good sign for…the Delaware State Hornets?!?
Delaware State was the unfortunate #16 seed slated to play the Dookies that night. Of the 20,000+ fans in the stadium, I would say 14,000 were cheering for the Hornets. The entire undergraduate student body of Delaware State, a historically black college, is 3,722 students. If every Delaware State student attended that game, it still would have only accounted for 25% of the cheering. The Hornets players and band were shocked, and it wasn’t until midway through the first half that they began to realize that the Tar Heel fans were cheering for the Hornets because of their opponent: Dook.
The Mississippi State Cheerleaders took quick notice of this, and after beating Stanford in the first round the Bulldogs were to be Dook’s next victim two days later. As the UNC-Iowa State Game was becoming a blowout and the Duke game was looming,the MSU cheerleaders went up to the Coliseum stands and taught Carolina fans the basic MSU cheers. Before long the entire stadium was shouting “GO! STATE! GO STATE!” and “WHITE! MAROOOOON! WHITE! MAROOON!” and Coach K was shaking in his boots. You know that Coach K, a devout Catholic, is concerned about a game when he brings out the rosary and blesses himself multiple times. The entire game felt like it was being played at the Dean Dome; that was probably the most passionate crowd the MSU basketball team has ever played for, before or since. It took all the effort the Dookies had to win 63-55 that day.
Why did I take the time to provide this anecdote? Because if they have to play in Winston-Salem against a good Big East or Missouri Valley Conference team, the Dookies may not make it out of the regional, and even if they did, I doubt there would be enough left in the tank to beat Florida. I also thought that you might enjoy this little story. Either way, I’ve crammed it into your brainspace forever more.