This year's NCAA Tournament shows us why we call it "March Madness." With ten upsets in the first round, six in the second, and three in the Sweet Sixteen, one team has stood out to us all. The Saint Peter's Peacocks.
The sole team representing the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has taken this tournament by storm. The Peacock Madness began with an overtime win against Kentucky, who came into the tournament a Top-10 team. Then, in the Round of 32, the Peacocks shocked the nation once more, beating a three-loss Murray State team, who was ranked in the Top-25 and on a twenty-one game winning streak. Finally, the #15 seeded Saint Peter's team would advance to the Elite Eight after beating another Top-10 team, Purdue.
The Peacocks will face the Carolina Tarheels on Sunday as the first #15 seeded team in the history of the tournament to reach the Elite Eight. It puts us Tar Heel fans in a bit of a bind because who doesn't love a good Cinderella story? Who wouldn't love to see Saint Peters advance to the Final Four and eventually win it all? For Tar Heel and Blue Devil fans, there is an opportunity for the greatest rivalry in sports to meet in the Final Four for the first time in history in what we hope will be Coach K's final game. The closest the two teams have ever been to meeting in the Final Four came in 1991 when Duke beat UNLV to advance to the National Championship, but Carolina would lose to a Roy Williams led Kansas team, and we would miss out on a Carolina vs. Duke National Title game. Duke would end up beating Kansas that year.
The face of the Peacocks throughout the tournament has been the 6' 2" guard, Doug Edert. Doug came onto the scene and made a name for himself against Kentucky when he dropped 20 points on the Wildcats. Murray State couldn't find an answer for him, which led him to drop another 13 going 66% from the field. Purdue did slow him down though and only allowed him to score one bucket but would send him to the free-throw line enough times to score a total of ten points.
Doug was recruited as a 2-Star guard out of Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey, only thirty minutes away from the university. During his time at Begen, the Crusaders would have a varsity record of 89-23. There he was a four-year starter and would score over 1,000 points and would win a State Championship. According to MaxPreps, each year Doug was at Bergen, the team's state ranking would increase from 20th his Freshman year, 12th his Sophomore, 10th his Junior, and 4th his senior. Doug was not recruited heavily out of high school, but Edert's ability to shoot and toughness attracted Saint Peter's coach Shaheen Holloway, which has paid off since Doug managed to average a 42.5% three-point percentage.
It would be a crime not to mention Daryl Banks, who Doug's stache has upstaged. Against Kentucky, Banks dropped 27, yes, 27 points, going 47% from the field and 63% from the three. That is ridiculous Daryl. Murray State learned a lesson from Kentucky and allowed Banks to score only 6 points in 27 minutes. Three of those are from free throws. But the Racers forgot about Doug and KC Ndefo. Against Purdue, Banks' production went back up as he scored 14 points on 42.8% shooting.
This is a Cinderella story for the books, and the Heels should not take Sunday's game lightly. There is a reason they are in the Elite Eight. If the Heel's lose, I honestly wouldn't be that upset as long as Saint Peter's went on to beat Duke and win it all. Luckily, we have another year of Doug since he is a Junior this year. Sunday is going to be a very exciting game.
Note: My mother was on the edge of her seat tonight for the UNC vs UCLA game, but if you're going to bet money this Sunday, you can put your life saving on my mother "Feeling so bad for those boys" if Saint Peter's loses.