An Elite Eight matchup between No. 8 seed North Carolina vs. No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s will bring a historic result regardless of who wins. The story of Saint Peter’s writes itself: they’re the lowest seed to ever reach the regional finals and are now one win away from the most shocking Final Four run in history. A win for UNC would bring an even juicer storyline: the program’s first ever NCAA tournament matchup with archrival Duke in head coach Mike Krzyzewski final season before retirement.
The run Saint Peter’s is on defies comprehension. They took out a national title contender in No. 2 seed Kentucky in the first round, giving John Calipari the most disappointing loss of his career. The Peacocks then defeated a talented No. 7 seed Murray State team to become the third No. 15 seed in history to reach the second weekend of the tournament. A game against No. 3 seed Purdue and superstar guard Jaden Ivey was supposed to be the end of Saint Peter’s Cinderella run, but somehow head coach Shaheen Holloway’s team outplayed the Boilermakers from the very start.
At this point, nothing about the Peacocks’ run seems like a fluke. They’ve simply been the better team in every game they have played.
North Carolina’s run to the Elite Eight is stunning in its own right. The Tar Heels lost to Duke by 20 points on their home floor in early Feb. and took another home loss to ACC bottom-feeder Pittsburgh two weeks later. UNC then traveled to Cameron Indoor Stadium for Coach K’s final home game and handed Duke a shocking 94-81 defeat. That win seemed to give new life to the Heels, who have been on fire ever since.
UNC blew out Marquette in an 8-9 matchup to open the tournament, then knocked out No. 1 seed Baylor in an overtime thrilled marred by poor officiating. A talented UCLA team had the Tar Heels on the ropes throughout their Sweet 16 matchup in the next game, but some clutch shots by Caleb Love put Carolina on the doorstep of the Final Four.
Here’s how you can watch the Elite Eight game between North Carolina and Saint Peter’s, plus three keys to the game.
How to watch North Carolina vs. St. Peter’s
Can Caleb Love stay hot?
Love had a frustrating college career before entering this tournament. Originally projected as a one-and-done when he first enrolled at North Carolina, Love had an underwhelming freshman year and an up-and-down sophomore season. Since the big dance started, though, Love has been UNC’s biggest star. He hit six threes in the win over Marquette, and then hit six more threes in the win against UCLA.
Carolina needs Love to continue playing like the best player on the floor if they want to beat a ferocious Peacocks defense. For as excellent as his scoring punch as been, the fact that Love only had one turnover against UCLA might be the most encouraging stat of all.
Can the Saint Peter’s defense keep locking down the paint?
Every team Saint Peter’s has faced in this tournament run has enjoyed a major size advantage up front. That hasn’t stopped the Peacocks from playing excellent interior defense to knock out some the field’s best big men.
National player of the year contender Oscar Tshiebwe was the first victim of the Peacocks swarming defense. Purdue’s 7’4 giant Zach Edey and skilled post presence Trevion Williams didn’t fare much better. North Carolina will certainly try to establish star center Armando Bacot inside, but Saint Peter’s will be ready to bring multiple defenders on every post touch. If the Peacocks can limit another dynamic big man, they might just do the unthinkable and reach the Final Four.
Will Shaheen Holloway’s magic continue?
How can you not love this man?
Holloway has pushed the right buttons every time on both ends of the floor. His offensive sets are pristine and his defense is tough and rugged. Does he have one more magical game plan left in him? We can’t wait to find out.