NC State beats Duke in Elite 8


NC State, which had to win five games in five days in early March to merely qualify for the NCAA Tournament, tied a record as the lowest seed to reach the Final Four with its 76-64 win over Duke on Sunday in Dallas.

NC State, a No. 11 seed, completes a Final Four that includes No. 1 seeds Connecticut and Purdue and No. 4 seed Alabama. NC State will face Purdue in one semifinal, while UConn and Alabama will meet in the other on Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Connecticut (35-3) is the clear favorite after defeating its four NCAA Tournament opponents by an average of 27.8 points. The Huskies cruised through the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds this weekend in Boston, hammering San Diego State by 30 points and Illinois by 25 to win the East Regional.

UConn is looking to become the first program to repeat since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

Purdue (33-4) is seeking redemption. The Boilermakers were the overall No. 1 seed a year ago when they lost to 16th-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson, only the second 16-over-1 upset in men’s tournament history. But Purdue, led by 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey regrouped and defeated No. 16 Grambling State, No. 8 Utah State, No. 5 Gonzaga and No. 2 Tennessee en route to its first Final Four since 1980.

Alabama (25-11) entered the tournament with an elite offense and suspect defense but proved offense can win out. The Crimson Tide averaged 89.8 points per game in wins over No. 13 Charleston, No. 12 Grand Canyon, No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Clemson. This is their first Final Four appearance.

Finally, there’s NC State. On March 12, the Wolfpack were losers of four straight when they entered the ACC tournament as the No. 10 seed in the 15-team field. But they won five consecutive games in Washington, D.C., to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Led by 6-foot-9, 275-pound center DJ Burns Jr., who has cemented his status as a March folk hero, NC State beat No. 6 Texas Tech, No. 14 Oakland, No. 4 Marquette and No. 2 Duke during the past two weekends.

NC State is the sixth No. 11 seed to make a Final Four, joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), VCU (2011), Loyola Chicago (2018) and UCLA (2021).

Game times are set for Saturday:

NC State vs. Purdue: 6:09 p.m. ET

UConn vs. Alabama: 8:49 p.m. ET





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