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Final Four 2022: North Carolina narrowly defeats Duke in classic thriller and heads to national championship


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North Carolina and Duke added another storied chapter to their rivalry on Saturday night.

In an epic Final Four game that will go down as one of the classics in NCAA men’s basketball history, North Carolina defeated Duke 81-77 and will head to the national championship game against Kansas on Monday night. at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

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Caleb Love arrived in the clutch for the Tar Heels at the end.

Caleb Love #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts in the second half of the game against the Duke Blue Devils in the Final Four Semifinals of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Caesars Superdome on April 02, 2022 in Nova Scotia. Orleans, Louisiana.
(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

With the Tar Heels one field goal, Love hit a big three-pointer to put the team ahead 78-74. Duke’s Jeremy Roach drove to respond with a layup. But it would be Love’s free throws that would ultimately seal the game for North Carolina and put the Tar Heels back in the national title game.

Love finished with a game-high 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the floor. He had four rebounds and an assist in the game.

Three other North Carolina players were in double digits in scoring. Armando Bacot finished with a double-double with 11 points and 21 rebounds. He committed an out-of-contest foul.

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RJ Davis added 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Brady Manek, who had a few clutch hits in the streak, had 14 points, four rebounds and three blocks.

Final Four 2022: North Carolina narrowly defeats Duke in classic thriller and heads to national championship

Jeremy Roach #3 of the Duke Blue Devils dribbles past Caleb Love #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first half of the game during the Final Four Semifinals of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Caesars Superdome on 02 April 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
(Chris Gray then/Getty Images)

Duke fought well. There were a lot of lead changes.

Paolo Banchero had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the game. Trevor Keels finished with 19 points off the bench and two rebounds.

Duke’s loss spells the end of Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching career.

Final Four 2022: North Carolina narrowly defeats Duke in classic thriller and heads to national championship

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski looks on during the first half of a college basketball game against North Carolina in the semifinals of the Men’s Final Four NCAA Tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, in New Orleans.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Coach K announced before the start of the 2021-22 season that it would be his last and nearly led Duke to a sixth national championship.

He would end his career as one of the most decorated NCAA men’s basketball coaches in history. He is the leader in career wins with 1,202 wins. He won five championships and led Duke to 13 Final Fours. He was a five-time ACC Coach of the Year and a three-time Naismith Coach of the Year.

On Monday, the focus will be on North Carolina’s game against Kansas. North Carolina was champion in 2017 and second in 2016.

Final Four 2022: North Carolina narrowly defeats Duke in classic thriller and heads to national championship

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot (5) reacts to a play during the first half of a college basketball game against Duke in the semifinals of the Men’s Final Four NCAA Tournament, Saturday, April 2, 2022, at New -Orleans.
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Hubert Davis guided the No. 8-seeded Tar Heels to the championship game in his first season. Davis has the opportunity to follow in Steve Fisher’s footsteps by winning a national title in his very first season off the bench as head coach.

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