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The celebration among North Carolina fans who were in New Orleans for UNC’s 81-77 victory over Duke in the Final Four on Saturday night figures to continue right up until the Tar Heels play Kansas in the national title game on Monday. But thousands of UNC fans who couldn’t make the trip to the Big Easy found a way to gather together and celebrate what will go down as one of college basketball’s all-time great games.
Fans lined up outside the Dean Smith Center on UNC’s campus hours before the game and overflowed the venue’s lower bowl for a watch party of the broadcast on TBS. Then, as North Carolina’s monumental victory went final, fans poured onto the floor in celebration.
It was a scene of mayhem that would have been unfathomable less than two months ago when the Tar Heels lost 87-67 on that same court to Duke. At the time, UNC was on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and a blowout loss against the Blue Devils did little to help its chances of reaching the Big Dance.
In the weeks that followed, however, North Carolina found its groove under first-year coach Hubert Davis. A 94-81 win at Duke on March 5 gave the Tar Heels momentum entering the postseason, and Saturday night’s Final Four victory gave the Tar Heels a 2-1 edge in the season series against their arch rival. While there is still one game left to play for North Carolina this season, the reaction in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Saturday night showed just how significant this Final Four win was for the UNC fan base.