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AP photo by Gerry Broome / Duke's Wendell Moore Jr., center, celebrates with teammates Jordan Goldwire, left, and forward Joey Baker after making the buzzer-beating basket in a 98-96 overtime win Saturday night at North Carolina.

Rare is the weekend during college basketball's regular season that has almost too many riveting storylines to review in a single column. But this one just completed more than qualifies.

Whether it was the 100-year anniversary of the start of the matchless Duke-North Carolina rivalry, the NCAA tournament selection committee's unveiling of its midseason top 16 seeds or the return of Robert Montgomery Knight to Indiana's Assembly Hall after a 20-year absence, Saturday was almost certainly the most memorable day yet for this 2019-20 season.

We'll start by going last to first, in terms of when it occurred, and that would be the Duke-UNC overtime game. Say what you will of the calls that always seem to go Duke's way — much as they always seemed to go the Tar Heels' way when Dean Smith was their coach — or the academic scandal that North Carolina pretty much got away with, but there is no more passionate or storied rivalry year in and year out than the Blue Devils taking on the Tar Heels in men's basketball.

Merely consider that Nike created special uniforms for both teams for Saturday's game at the Dean Smith Center.

And, oh, what a game it was, right up to the Dookies' Wendell Moore Jr. sticking in a rebound basket with less than a second to play in overtime to make the Blue Devils 98-96 winners. A remarkable stat: Those two points now give Duke the lead in total points scored over the past 101 games of the series — 7,844 to 7,842. Beyond that, the Blue Devils now edge ahead over the past 101 games, 51 to 50.

In perhaps the best quote of the night, losing coach Roy Williams accurately said of the rivalry that will move to Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 7: "If you don't care who won the game, you had to enjoy that as a big-time college basketball game. I care who won the game, so I did not enjoy the final outcome."

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AP photo by Doug McSchooler / Former Indiana men's basketball coach Bobby Knight, center, makes his first appearance at a Hoosiers basketball game since being fired in September 2000. Knight is surrounded by former players and staff during Saturday's ceremony for the school's 1980 Big Ten championship at halftime of a game against Purdue.

Regardless of how you may personally feel about former Indiana coaching legend Knight, it was also hard not to enjoy Knight's long-overdue return to a Hoosiers basketball game after one of the most successful careers in the history of the game.

It wasn't just that Knight won three NCAA titles with the Hoosiers; it was the way he did it without a hint of scandal. Yes, he appeared to have anger management issues at times, and he'll probably always be remembered as much for his infamous chair toss in 1985 as his 902 total victories and championships.

But the late Myles Brand, who later ran the NCAA for a time, baited Knight into a situation that he knew would lead to the coach's ouster for aggressive behavior. When Knight reportedly grabbed a student whom he felt had been rude to him, Brand, the university's president at the time, had all he needed to rid himself of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach.

And because of that dismissal, Knight refused to return to campus — with the exception of a baseball game last year — even when he was inducted into the school's hall of fame.

Knight didn't address the crowd Saturday, but the presence of so many of his former players and the endless chants of "Thank you, Coach!" from a sellout crowd as a far older (79) and more feeble Knight seemed to choke back tears left no need for words.

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AP photo by David Zalubowski / San Diego State men's basketball fans cheer in the second half of the Aztecs' game Saturday at Air Force Academy.

Finally, there was the selection committee's early choice of the top 16 seeds as of Saturday morning. Some were easy, as in No. 1 seeds San Diego State (which remains undefeated), Gonzaga and Baylor. Some seem less certain, such as Kansas, which has lost by by 12 at home to Baylor and also fell to Duke and Villanova.

Yes, Duke has a home loss to Stephen F. Austin (which is 21-3, by the way), a road loss at .500 Clemson and a home loss to Louisville. But the Dookies did beat Kansas on a neutral court, and by the eye test, they seem the better team.

Then again, by theoretically placing San Diego State in the East, which has its final weekend in Duke's home away from home, Madison Square Garden, the committee is sort of making Duke a fifth No. 1 and pretty much telling the Aztecs that they think they're really a No. 2.

As for the rest of it, the biggest flaw may be in Oregon and Butler drawing a No. 4 seed and Kentucky being left out, despite wins over Louisville and Michigan State, both among the first 16, as well as a win at Texas Tech, where the Red Raiders' previous 54 nonconference foes had lost.

But none of that really matters all that much until Selection Sunday, when who's in and who's out of the 68-team field is about all that matters.

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AP photo by Wade Payne / Kentucky's Johnny Juzang (10) works for a shot while guarded by Tennessee's Davonte Gaines during the first half of Saturday's game in Knoxville.

One final thing about Kentucky and freshman wing Johnny Juzang. Less than 24 hours before he hit all four of his field-goal attempts, including three 3-pointers, and both his free throws in the Wildcats' win at Tennessee, his older brother Christian scored 15 points and handed out nine assists in Harvard's 78-77 win over Yale on Friday night.

So as big as Duke's win over UNC and Knight's return to Bloomington were, no college hoops family may have had a better weekend than the Juzang clan.

"You just keep pushing," said Johnny, who had averaged 2.3 points and 11.3 minutes per game prior to Saturday. "I'm definitely not saying it's easy. But you just keep going."

Keep pushing. Keep going. Even when it's not easy. That's how Duke came from behind to beat North Carolina. That's how Knight won 902 games. That's how 16 teams will become the top 16 seeds come the real Selection Sunday. Until then, it may be hard to find as memorable a college hoops weekend as the one just past.

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Mark Wiedmer

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.

 

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