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NCAA Tournament in Columbia: Zion’s injury impacts Duke’s seed. What about location?

Frank Martin: NCAA tournament is a window to showcase Columbia

The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be held in Columbia at the Colonial Life Arena in March.
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The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be held in Columbia at the Colonial Life Arena in March.

Zion Williamson hasn’t played in a game since Feb. 20. Duke is 3-3 with its All-American freshman forward sidelined by a knee injury.

While all of that has likely slipped the Blue Devils off the 1-seed line, there’s a chance it hasn’t impacted where they’ll be for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

With Selection Sunday less than a week away, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has Duke coming to Colonial Life Arena, March 22-24. (Both Lunardi and CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm have North Carolina in Columbia.)

Williamson, a Spartanburg native, is expected to return this week for the ACC Tournament in Charlotte.

Below is look at the most updated brackets from both Lunardi and Palm and who they project coming to CLA for the Big Dance’s opening rounds.

The latest from Joe Lunardi

Midwest region

(1) North Carolina-(16) Sam Houston State

(8) Central Florida-(9) Utah State

South region

(7) Iowa State-(10) Seton Hall

(2) Duke-(15) Wright State

Observations: This would mark the second time in three years a South Carolina city has hosted both Duke and UNC. Greenville did it in 2017.

The latest from Jerry Palm

East region

(1) Virginia-(16) St. Francis (PA)-Norfolk State winner

(8) Wofford-(9) Baylor

Midwest region

(1) North Carolina-(16) Sam Houston State

(8) Central Florida-(9) Oklahoma

Observations: There would be few second round matchups as intriguing as Virginia-Wofford.

The Terriers, playing a few hours from home, can score with anyone and they’d be up against the nation’s stingiest defense.

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.


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