UNC vs. Saint Peter's score, takeaways: Tar Heels to face Duke in Final Four as Peacocks' Cinderella run ends
UNC joins Kansas, Villanova and Duke in the Final Four field after beating Saint Peter's in the East Regional final
The Cinderella story of the 2022 NCAA Tournament is dancing no more. Just days after becoming the first No. 15 seed in March Madness history to earn an Elite Eight berth, Saint Peter's fell in lopsided fashion to No. 8 seed North Carolina 69-49 on Sunday, the third-largest loss in a regional final since 2000. The outcome sets up a Final Four matchup of the Tar Heels vs. No. 2 seed Duke in one semifinal, after No. 1 seed Kansas meets No. 2 seed Villanova in the first semifinal at 6:09 p.m. ET on Saturday.
UNC's win sets up a first-ever NCAA Tournament matchup between Tobacco Road rivals Duke and North Carolina set to be played Saturday in New Orleans. The two split the season series with each winning in the other's home arena, most recently with the Tar Heels playing spoiler to the Blue Devils in what was Coach K's final home game in Durham, North Carolina.
UNC jumped out to an early 9-0 lead in the finale of the tourney's second weekend, the Peacocks' biggest deficit of the tournament, and kept its foot on the gas throughout. Fifteen minutes into the first half it was 27-9, and with just over 15 minutes left in the second half, the Tar Heels extended their lead to a game-high 27 points. Saint Peter's chipped away down the stretch behind a huge second-half performance from Fousseyni Drame, who had 10 of his 12 points after halftime, but the result for UNC was never in question.
Dominance in the paint led UNC in part to its comfortable win, with Armando Bacot scoring 20 points and bringing down a whopping 22 rebounds. As a team, the Tar Heels pounded the paint to the tune of 34 points as well, with 26 of their 69 total points in this one coming on layups.
Here are a few takeaways as North Carolina moved on to the Final Four with the victory on Sunday.
1. Armando Bacot goes nuclear
UNC's Mr. Double-Double himself recorded his sixth consecutive double-double against the Peacocks, but boy this one was especially dominant. Bacot finished with 20 points and 22 rebounds in the win, becoming just the fifth player since tournament expansion in 1985 to record at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a March Madness game. Oh, and joining Hakeem isn't bad company to keep.
UNC has a ton of depth and enough star power that the bulk of production on any given night can come from anyone. Last game it was Caleb Love. The game before it was Brady Manek. The game before it was R.J. Davis. With so many weapons inside and out, it makes the Tar Heels one of the most challenging scouts still standing in the tourney.
2. Duke-UNC for a shot at the chip
The best rivalry in all of college basketball will get the royal treatment on the biggest stage in all of college basketball with a championship game berth on the line in next week's Final Four. Lawd, have mercy, we are not worthy! Saturday's Final Four matchup between the Tobacco Road rivals will be the 258th time they meet in the all-time series and the first – yes, the first! – in an NCAA Tournament setting.
UNC and Duke split the series in the regular season with each winning on the other's home floor and UNC, playing spoiler, getting the dub in Cameron Indoor on March 5 -- the date of Coach K's final home game. It's hard to script a better Final Four matchup than this one.
3. Hubert Davis a huge hit in Year 1
On Jan. 22 of this year, UNC was 4-3 in league play and coming off consecutive deflating losses to Miami and to Wake Forest. Its tourney hopes looked bleak and its resume was barely bubble-worthy. Since then, it has won 16 of its last 19 games and stormed to its 21st Final Four appearance and first under first-year coach Hubert Davis. You could say his debut season has gone prettay, prettay well. And yeah ... based off this video, sure looks like he's First-Team All-Likeable as a coach. One heck of a way to springboard into your tenure.