These teams don’t need any introduction. The UCLA and North Carolina teams were created by John Wooden and Dean Smith who are both legends in college basketball. The programs have reached 39 Final Fours together and won 17 national titles.

These teams require a lot of introduction. Saint Peter’s, an aspiring commuter college located in the shadows of the Big Apple and Purdue are both participating in March Madness runs that few people outside their zip codes could have imagined when they were released.

Fourth-seeded UCLA will face eighth-seeded North Carolina, and No. Saint Peter’s will be taking on 3 Purdue, who is trying to become a first 15 seed to reach a regional final. One of these teams will be selected from the East to travel to New Orleans and participate in the Final Four.

Doug Edert, Peacocks’ guard, said that “everybody on our team have a chip on their shoulder.” He also has a Twitter account. His mustache is now wavy. “We are always trying to prove ourselves as both a program and as a basketball team.”

Saint Peter’s won’t be the only one in Philly in this regard over the three days to come.

It is clear that the NCAA Tournament is the most compelling American sporting event. This is evident by the fact that none of these teams, not the bluebloods nor Purdue, and certainly not even the Peacocks, entered the tournament as trendy picks.

Despite its pedigree and history, North Carolina was on the bubble for most of 2022.

After blowout defeats to Miami and Wake Forest in January, Hubert Davis’ first year as coach was not confident about his team’s tournament prospects. However, he did feel secure after an unexpected win at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski.

This win caused a major hole in Coach K’s retirement party, one of the most memorable storylines of the season. This season has not been written in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels (26-9), after a difficult start, are now two wins away the record 21st Final Four.

Armando Bacot, a UNC big man, stated that “I don’t think we go into any game thinking any other team is better than us.”

UCLA (27-7), is aiming for its 20th Final Four. Officially, it’s the 19th since 1980, when the NCAA removed the 1980 appearance. Most of them were during the Wooden dynasty in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Bruins won 10 of 11 titles. Last season was the last Final Four. UCLA was the 11th seed, and Gonzaga went undefeated to the buzzer.

The Bruins were defeated by a bank shot taken from within half court. There was no time remaining in overtime. The majority of the team is back but UCLA has had to deal with injuries all season and play in the shadows of Arizona, the Pac-12 champions, who are top-seeded in South and account for two UCLA losses.

This is the matchup against North Carolina, the 14th meeting between these two storied programs. The tournament’s North Carolina team is 1-1 against Bruins. Smith vs. The 1968 title game saw a Wooden coaching match.

“I know everything about the Carolina way. Mick Cronin, Bruins coach, said that he has great respect for their program and their history. “But I have to pinch myself every time I turn left onto Sunset (Boulevard). If you are a guy like me and you coach at UCLA, then it’s great to coach in a game such as this.

Purdue is the region’s favourite to reach New Orleans, both by seeding and the odds. In some ways, the Boilermakers (29-7) are a throwback back to how things were.

They play inside out behind Trevion Williams (6’10”) (11.9 points, seven boards a game), and Zach Edey (7’4″) (14 and 8. Jaden Ivey (17, 4), gets a lot of the outside action. Seniors make up two of the four double-digit scorers on the team. None of the four double-digit scorers are freshmen.

Purdue has won 24 of the Big Ten’s regular-season titles, more than any other team (not Michigan, Michigan State, or Indiana). The Boilermakers have not been to the Final Four in four years. This is despite Joe Barry Carroll playing in the middle and Gene Keady still at Western Kentucky.

Matt Painter assumed the role of Keady’s successor in 2005. This is his sixth trip on the Sweet 16.

Mike Bobinski, Purdue’s athletic director, stated that “he is 100% committed to the idea that if things are done a certain way then then we will be a team that can be very difficult to deal with.”

Although Purdue had long dreamed of a path to this place, Saint Peter’s (21-11), has taken a different route.

The Peacocks finished the conference at 12-11. They were going nowhere in an event that had essentially one headliner: Rick Pitino, Iona coach. Iona fell in the first round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. Saint Peter’s, coached in part by Shaheen Holloway (former guard at Seton Hall), has now won nine consecutive games.

“What we are doing right now is going down in history,” Daryl Banks III, the top scorer in a 10-deep rotation, said. “But, as we said before, we are not finished yet. We move on from it the next day.


Jaime Jaquez Jr., a member of the Bruins, injured his ankle during the victory over Saint Mary’s last Wednesday. At the Thursday media conference, Jaquez said he was “day-today”. Cronin stated that Jaquez would certainly try to play but that it was more important for him to be effective.


Painter, who was a guard for Purdue between 1989 and 1993, said that scouting Saint Peter’s brought back memories of what Keady used tell him: “My college coach always told me that good players can be at two places at once.” It was then that I realized I wasn’t a very skilled player.