NC State Men’s Basketball takes ‘March Madness’ to another level: Duke had no answer for NC State’s DJ Burns

Sunday’s men’s NCAA Tournament takeaways: NC State takes ‘March Madness’ to another level
from Mike Santa Barbara, with

The 2024 men’s Final Four is set, with NC State and Purdue advancing on Sunday.

The two teams will play on April 6 in Phoenix, Arizona, for a spot in the national championship game.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s games.

NC State is taking “March Madness” to another level

This year’s tournament is full of incredible storylines, from UConn’s dominance and Purdue’s rise to Alabama’s first Final Four berth. However, NC State’s easily tops them all.

Following Sunday’s Elite Eight upset of rival No. 4 Duke, the Wolfpack have now won nine games in a row, with their season on the line. Again, that’s nine must-win games straight.

This is a team that defied the odds before the tournament even started, needing to win five games in seven days just to qualify. Since then, they’ve downed No. 6 Texas Tech, knocked out the tournament’s original Cinderella, No. 14 Oakland, and shocked No. 2 Marquette before Sunday’s stunner against Duke.

For the No. 11-seeded NC State, it’s the program’s first Final Four appearance since 1983. Meanwhile, they’ll join the women’s team, who also advanced to the Final Four, matching up against defending champion No. 1 South Carolina on April 5.

Duke and HC Jon Scheyer had no answer for NC State’s DJ Burns

Duke’s tournament ride ended with a resounding thud on Sunday. In NC State’s 76-64 upset victory, Burns’ dominance and the Blue Devils’ refusal to adjust to it played the most significant role.

The Wolfpacks’ athletic 6-foot-9, 275-pound big man gave Duke fits, recording a team-high 29 points, including 21 in the second half alone. Burns’ explosion after halftime helped NC State outscore the Blue Devils 55-37 en route to a 12-point win and a spot in the Final Four.

Duke led at halftime by six, 27-21, but Burns began to assert himself in the second half. While previous opponents of NC State chose to double Burns in an attempt to slow him down, Scheyer didn’t use that tactic on Sunday.

Instead, he did nothing, and Burns repeatedly overwhelmed the Blue Devils in the post with little, if any, resistance.

Zach Edey continues to be too much to handle

Surprise, surprise, Edey was dominant again Sunday against the Volunteers, helping send the Boilermakers back to the Final Four for the first time since 1980. The 7-foot-4 marvel was virtually unstoppable, scoring a game-high 40 points to go along with 16 boards.

Through four tournament games, Edey is averaging a remarkable 30 points and 16 rebounds. Meanwhile, he continues to be extremely efficient. Following a 13-of-21 shooting day, Edey is shooting an incredible 66% from the field (42-of-64).

Edey is also getting to the free-throw line a ton. While opinions on how he earns trips to the charity stripe vary, he’s been there 54 times during the tournament, making 36 (67%).

Tennessee needed more than Dalton Knecht to beat Purdue

Topping No. 1 Purdue was already going to be a challenge. However, when only one player shows up, it’s hard to beat anyone, let alone a team like the Boilermakers.

Knecht carried the load on Sunday, taking nearly half (31) of Tennessee’s shots (62) in a 72-66 loss. The senior guard recorded a team-high 37 points, including six three-pointers, but he was the only standout on the Tennessee side.

The rest of the starting lineup finished a combined 6-of-21 from the field and 3-of-11 from beyond the arc for 19 points.

Impact can’t be measured only by points, but Tennessee simply needed more from their starters on Sunday.

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