Will they blame the HB2 curse?
Posted March 20
It may come to be called the House Bill 2 curse. The big question is, will sports fans take it out on HB2 backers at the ballot box? Duke University, a team many picked to be the next NCAA basketball national champions, lost a stunning upset to seventh-seeded University of South Carolina 88-81 in Greenville, S.C.
It might be, as the sportscasters say, a tale of the tape —just how far some teams were from home courts and crowds.
Duke should have been playing the South Carolina Gamecocks in Greensboro – a mere 54 miles from home in Durham. It would have been about as big a home-court advantage as you get in the March Madness tournament.
But that was before HB2 legalized discrimination in North Carolina and forced the NCAA to move the first two rounds of March Madness to Greenville, S.C. That put the Blue Devils 241 miles from home and meant the game was played in the home state of the Gamecocks, who were treated to a friendly crowd and home-court advantage.
The Duke loss was stunning, and perhaps explainable ONLY by the intervention of mystical forces. Duke gave up 65 points in the game’s second half – the most EVER given up by a Mike Krzyzewski team. And that was after Duke had held South Carolina to just 20-percent shooting in the game’s first half.
Duke went 5-8 from beyond the 3-point line in the first half and just 5-19 in the second half. They tied a season high – 18 – for turnovers.
While an HB2 curse might be something of speculation, rest assured, there would have been sports fans – and not a few commentators – declaring it a fact if the top-ranked University of North Carolina hadn’t waged a dramatic comeback in the last three minutes of the earlier game on the Bon Secours Wellness Arena court (after blowing a 17-point lead earlier in the first half), to defeat 8th-ranked Arkansas 72-65.
-- Posted by Seth Effron