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NEW ORLEANS – Numbers. They are what the NCAA Tournament is all about – the field of 64, the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and the Final Four.
Here are the top 10 numbers to know for the 2022 Final Four.
1.) The most significant number of this Final Four remains one. After competing in the same NCAA Tournament 36 times since 1978, tonight’s matchup (8:49 p.m. eastern, TBS) between No. 2 seed Duke (32-6) and No. 8 seed North Carolina (28-9) will be their game No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament. The 36 non-meetings in shared NCAA Tournaments by Duke and North Carolina are the most of any two teams in the history of the tournament, which began 1939.
3.) This is the first Final Four in history in which all four participants have won at least three national championships – North Carolina (6), Duke (5), Villanova (3) and Kansas (3). No. 1 seed Kansas (32-6) and No. 2 seed Villanova (30-7) play the first game (6:09 p.m., TBS).
5.) Retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the first head coach in NCAA history to take a team to Final Fours in five decades – 1980s (1986, ’88 and ’89), 1990s (1990, ’91, ’92, ’94 and ’99), 2000s (2000 and ’04), 2010s (2010 and ’15) and the 2020s (2022).
6.) New Orleans is hosting its sixth Final Four (1982, 1987, 1993, 2003 and 2012) – the most of any city since 1982. Duke went to 16 Final Fours before this one, but this is its first in New Orleans.
13.) Coach K is in his NCAA record 13th Final Four. He previously was tied with the late John Wooden, who took UCLA to 12 Final Fours from 1962-75. Wooden announced his retirement two days before winning his NCAA record 10th and last national title in 1975. Krzyzewski announced he was retiring after this season last June.
61.) The four participants have reached a combined 61 Final Fours – North Carolina (21), Kansas (16), Duke (17) and Villanova (7).
101.) Coach K holds the record for most NCAA Tournament wins with 101. The second and third place coaches were both at North Carolina – Roy Williams with 77 and Dean Smith with 65.
258.) Duke and North Carolina will play for the 258th time tonight. North Carolina won the first game, 36-25, on Jan. 24, 1920, at the Angier B. Duke gym in Durham, North Carolina, when Duke was still called Trinity College. It was named Duke in 1924. North Carolina leads the series, 142-115. But Coach K is 50-47 against North Carolina and four coaches (Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, Matt Doherty, Roy Williams and Hubert Davis) since becoming coach before the 1980-81 season.
.830.) Villanova leads the nation in free throw percentage at .830, making 519 of 625 shots at the line. The NCAA record is .822 by Harvard in the 1983-84 season.
15,356.) Should Duke lose to North Carolina, the number of days Mike Krzyzewski was Duke’s coach would be 15,356. That could also be the number of days it takes Duke fans to forget about such a loss.
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“But Coach K is 50-47 against North Carolina”
NCAA reports it after tonight as 50-50, but there were those [ahem], back surgery games where undermanned Duke teams got run by UNC that don’t count on K’s record.
From the time K was hired until the day he finished, UNC had a winning record against Duke.