CHARLOTTE – Consider this as a call to the gods of basketball, a prayer to the cosmic guardians of The Bracket.
Three times to see Duke-North Carolina this season is not enough.
During the many years of your tournament in its various forms and sizes of terrain, we have never had the opportunity to see these two great rivals Tobacco Road play in a Final Four. In an event that has given us everything from VCU-Butler's chance to the raging heat of Louisville-Kentucky, it's high time we could see Duke-North Carolina play for everything.
So why not now – or more precisely in three weeks in Minneapolis? If it's a bit like Friday, when Duke stood for a 74-73 victory in the ACC tournament semifinal, it's more than worthy of your consideration.
"I'm not going to say, 'Oh my God, I hope we play them again,'" said Duke's rookie Zion Williamson, splashing a dose of cold water. "I'm not going to start an extra drama. It's a great team. If we see them, we see them. If no, well.
But as Williamson was right to give Duke 31 seconds and that North Carolina striker, Cam Johnson, could not hurry to hurry, the missing time, it seemed to him that he was staying more work to do.
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Duke can claim that he could have won one of the first two meetings against North Carolina, or both, if Williamson had not been forced to leave the field with a knee injury. North Carolina can state that she could have beaten three times in a row if she had not suffered from an unusually bad performance of 4 vs. 27 on the 3-point line.
Of all the years, North Carolina and Duke played each other while both were very well ranked. This season, as far as we can tell, we need to see her again for the last word.
"Zion had a great influence on the match," said Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, who was visibly shocked by questions suggesting that his team should apologize in a manner or another for not having played Duke thoroughly until Friday. "But injuries are also part of the game. I can go back and tell you over and over that we had injuries that really hurt us and that Zion was really hurt at Duke, but it was still Duke. -North Carolina. He made some big games in the last straight without having played the last two matches. "
It could be said that he could have done more if Duke had been committed to ensuring that Williamson touched the ball with each possession of the ball, which would have been a good idea, given that He scored 13 of his 19 goals for 31 points and that he was too strong and agile for North. The big ones from Carolina to keep him at the post.
Duke, as a young team, did not maximize this advantage. In the last nine minutes, Williamson scored 4 goals out of 6, while his teammates scored 1 of 9 goals, not to mention RJ Barrett missed two free throws 12 seconds from the end, which allowed the keeper North Carolina, Coby White, to win it (he did not miss it, missing a desperate 3-pointer).
This sequence emphasized the idea that Duke was not a team of three freshmen as it was announced in October. This is Williamson's team. He is the top scorer, the best passer and the best defender (he embarrassed Luke Maye and Nassir Little, which forced him to make two decisive losses near the edge in the last right).
Duke is an above-average team without him; he's a # 1 favorite and national favorite with him. And because of this poorly timed injury on February 20 in the first minute of the first meeting between Duke and UNC, we were deprived of the opportunity to see these two terrible championship contenders play relatively hard until Friday.
"Both historical programs are going from the front," said Barrett. "They kept coming to us, and we continued to play throughout the match. Such a fun game to play. "
And to watch. So, let's start again, shall we?
This idea may not be very popular in this state, where the underlying emotion of this rivalry may be too deep to maintain mental health. A Final Four meeting may be too big, too important to make it enjoyable.
But for the rest of us, another crack at Duke – North Carolina is exactly what we deserve. So, do it, basketball gods. Although we generally trust you, we will do nothing less than the fourth game in the final that year.