NC State ousts Duke for first Final Four trip since 1983 title


DJ Burns is amped up with the NC State fans as he bounces off his defender in transition before hitting the bucket in the final minutes. (0:24)
Open Extended Reactions
DALLAS — NC State, given up as a lost cause just three weeks ago, is headed to the Final Four.
The Wolfpack, the 11th seed in the South Region, beat fourth-seeded Duke 76-64 on Sunday to advance to the Final Four for the first time since the school won the NCAA tournament in 1983.
The Wolfpack looked to be in trouble in the first half when Duke took a nine-point lead and NC State’s DJ Burns Jr., who scored eight of his team’s first 11 points, picked up his second foul and left the game.
NC State trailed by six early in the second half but outscored Duke 31-11 over the next 12 minutes to take control of the game. Burns finished with 29 points, 21 in the second half.
NC State (26-14) has won nine straight games, five against ranked teams. The Wolfpack were 17-14 entering the ACC tournament and needed to win five games in five days just to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
NC State’s 14 losses are the most for a Final Four team. The Wolfpack are the seventh team to reach the Final Four as a double-digit seed, the last being UCLA in 2021.
The Wolfpack upset sixth-seeded Texas Tech in the first round of the NCAA tournament and next beat 14th-seeded Oakland in overtime to advance to the Sweet 16. North Carolina was the only Sweet 16 team seeded below a 6.
Coach Kevin Keatts said the Wolfpack belonged in the Sweet 16. He pointed to what at the time was NC State’s seven-game winning streak and said the Wolfpack didn’t “accidentally get hot,” not against the quality of teams they were beating.
In the Sweet 16, North Carolina State beat No. 2 seed Marquette 67-58 by holding the Golden Eagles to 4-of-31 shooting from 3-point range.
Keatts and some of NC State’s players, including guard Casey Morsell, said they have been inspired by the Wolfpack’s improbable 1983 NCAA title run. Then, the Wolfpack were similarly an underdog but won the championship game in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history over Houston.
“We pay homage to that team and that group all throughout the year,” Morsell said. “Those guys have been valuable to us by coming back, giving us feedback, giving us different things that we could do to be better. So we definitely appreciate them, and we honor them just by going out and trying to win.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here