The UNCW men’s basketball team looks to grab what could be the biggest win in program history this afternoon as the 13th-seeded Seahawks take on No. 4 Duke in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Port City Daily sports reporter Joe Catenacci will be watching the game with Seahawks fans at Trask Coliseum on campus and to provide play-by-play updates and fan reaction from today’s contest in Providence, Rhode Island. Check back at noon and throughout the game for more observations from Trask.
Here’s some pregame fodder to get caught up on both teams as the Seahawks look to pull off the upset against the Dukies.
UNCW, 25-7, punched their ticket for the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament last weekend with a three-game run in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship in Baltimore, Md. This week’s journey to Providence marks the fifth NCAA appearance for the team, but only its second matchup ever with the Blue Devils and Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.
An NCAA-provided charter flight picked up the Seahawks, cheerleaders, pep band, dance team, mascot and supporters at Wilmington International Airport on Tuesday and carried the group to Providence in a brisk adventure that lasted just 1:15.
Once in Rhode Island, the Seahawks began final preparations for their eighth-ever postseason appearance. UNCW has now played in the NCAA (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2015), NIT (1998, 2001) and CIT (2015) postseason events.
UNCW brings a four-game winning streak into today’s tip that will be beamed nationally on CBS-TV. The matchup kicks off the 68-team tournament that captivates sports fans each season and sends them into self-induced “March Madness” trauma.
The Seahawks have matched the school record of 25 victories set by the 2005-06 club and are seeking to become only the second team in school history to advance in the NCAA Tournament after the 2002 team and all-time great Brett Blizzard stunned fourth-seeded Southern California at Arco Arena in Sacramento, Calif.
The Blue Devils, 23-10 and 11-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, own the best NCAA Tournament winning percentage in the tournament’s history (.755) and rank third all-time in NCAA Tournament wins (105).
The two teams, just 160 miles apart, have only played once. Duke outlasted UNCW, 67-57, in overtime on Feb. 8, 1982, in Durham.
Duke has lost four of its last seven games following a five-game win streak from Feb. 2 to Feb. 17. The Blue Devils suffered an 84-79 overtime loss against Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament last Thursday.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has won 1,041 games in his coaching career, has guided Duke to 20 or more wins in 20 consecutive seasons. He is one of three coaches in Division I men’s basketball to accomplish the feat.
Duke has won 75.5 percent of its games in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the best mark of any school in the tournament’s history. In addition, the Blue Devils rank third all-time with 105 wins in tournament play.
Duke, the defending national champion, has reached the NCAA Championship game 11 times with five titles (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015).