Columbia, are you ready for Zion?
No. 1 seed Duke, as announced Sunday, is coming to Colonial Life Arena for the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The first round begins Friday. Second round games at CLA are Sunday.
The Blue Devils will take on No. 16 seed NC Central or North Dakota State on Friday. NC Central and North Dakota will play each other Wednesday in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio.
NCAA Tournament in Columbia schedule:
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(1) Duke vs. (16) NC Central-North Dakota State winner
(8) VCU vs. (9) UCF
(1) Virginia vs. (16) Gardner-Webb
(8) Ole Miss vs. (9) Oklahoma
This all means Zion Williamson, a Spartanburg native and college basketball’s biggest star, is returning home for his Big Dance debut. The freshman has already earned one National Player of the Year award. He’s expected to be the No. 1 pick of this summer’s NBA Draft. He was named most outstanding player of the ACC Tournament on Saturday.
This is Columbia’s first time hosting the NCAA Tournament since 1970.
Duke last went to South Carolina for the Big Dance in 2017, when it lost to the Gamecocks in Greenville.
The Blue Devils (29-5) won the ACC Tournament title after Virginia (29-3) took the league’s regular season title. The Cavaliers, of course, made history last March when they became the first No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 (UMBC).