Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament | Bleacher Report

UNC-Greensboro’s Isaiah MillerDarron Cummings/Associated Press

I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina five years ago partially in order to be close to a college basketball hotbed. Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, Clemson and South Carolina are all within about a two-hour drive, not to mention more than a dozen mid-majors.

Normally, it’s a fun place to be, and at least one (often more than one) of those fan bases has something to root for deep into the NCAA men’s tournament.

That certainly wasn’t the case this year.

For the first time since 1995, Duke didn’t even get into the NCAA tournament, and yet the Blue Devils won the same number of March Madness games as the rest of the teams from North Carolina and South Carolina combined.

The disappointment began in the First Four with Appalachian State losing to Norfolk State. The Mountaineers trailed by as many as 19 points (34-15) in the first half before going on a ridiculous 26-4 run in the second half to take a six-point lead. However, they missed each of their final 10 field-goal attempts, allowing the Spartans to claw back for a 54-53 victory.

Friday night was three times as rough for the Carolinas.

We’ve previously mentioned North Carolina’s 23-point loss to Wisconsin. That game was never even close.

As that blowout was ending, Clemson-Rutgers was just tipping off. That was a much better game. Save for an eight-minute stretch of the second half when Rutgers went on a 16-2 run and Clemson immediately responded with a 10-0 burst, it was a nail-biter throughout. But Clemson wilted down the stretch, scoring just one point in the final four minutes of a 60-56 loss.

The nightcap was Winthrop vs. Villanova, otherwise known as one of the most popular upset picks of the entire tournament. To their credit, the Eagles battled well against the 2016 and 2018 national champions, but they just had no answer for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Villanova’s big man racked up 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in the 73-63 victory.

All hope in the Carolinas boiled down to UNC-Greensboro’s game against Florida State on Saturday afternoon. And after initially falling behind 23-7, the Spartans put forth one heck of an effort, tying the game shortly after halftime and trailing by just one in the final five minutes. However, Florida State’s size was just too much down the stretch in a 64-54 win.

Less than 48 hours after the tournament began, the Carolina schools were 0-5 and out of the dance.

The only time in the past four decades that no team from the Carolinas reached the Sweet 16 was in 2014, but at least North Carolina and NC State each won a game that year. The last time no team from the state won so much as a single game was in 1976.