North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is continuing the tradition of filling out his NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket, even though his beloved North Carolina Tar Heels will not be part of March Madness.
“I’m so sad about my Tar Heels, but you have to pour your heart into what’s left,” Cooper said in a video on his social media account, revealing his picks. He added that he would have filled out an NIT bracket if UNC had decided to participate in that postseason tournament.
Cooper stuck to state loyalty and picked archrival Duke, under first-year head coach Jon Scheyer, to reach the Final Four for the second consecutive season.
“I think they’re on a roll and still can get there (Final Four),” he said, making his picks alongside Joe Ovies and Joe Giglio from 99.9 FM The Fan. “I’m going to go with them and Coach Scheyer to get them to the Final Four.”
Cooper, however, didn’t have the Blue Devils winning the national championship. He also predicted North Carolina State will fall in the Sweet 16 to Arizona. Instead, it would be Houston cutting down the nets over Arizona for the title, according to his bracket.
“I have Houston, even though they are not Phi Slama Jama, they’re a defensive team, they’re a balanced offense,” he said. “They have it all cooking if they can put it together.”
Houston last reached the Final Four in 2021, losing to eventual national champion Baylor. The Cougars’ only other Final Four appearance was in 1984 when a team that featured future Basketball Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon lost to North Carolina State in the national championship game.
The Blue Devils face No. 12 seed Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament first-round game tonight at 7 p.m. The game will be played at the Amway Center in Orlando, home of the Orlando Magic, and televised on TruTV.
NC State will open the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Friday against No. 6 seed Creighton in a first-round South Regional matchup. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and televised on TNT.
This story was originally published March 16, 2023, 11:48 AM.