It will be interesting to see if North Carolina fans stick around to support their old friends from Lehigh on Sunday night.
The Tar Heels play in the first game in Greensboro, N.C., at 5:15 p.m. against eighth-seeded Creighton. That game will be followed by 15th-seeded Lehigh taking on Xavier, the 10th seed.
On Friday night, Tar Heels fans stuck around by the thousands after top-seeded North Carolina trounced Vermont in the opening round simply to root for Lehigh to pull off a monumental upset over their fiercest rivals from Duke.
By the second half of the game _ when Lehigh proved it wasn’t going quietly into the night _ the crowd turned overwhelmingly in favor of the underdog Mountain Hawks as Tar Heels fans throughout the stadium began borrowing brown signs that read: Go Lehigh. It was odd to see fans in light blue shirts holding up brown signs, but they were everywhere.
The Mountain Hawks say the added support from the Tar Heels fans did not go unnoticed and motivated them.
Lehigh forward Justin Maneri didn’t realize how intense the Duke-North Carolina rivalry is until he and his teammates showed up in Greenboro last week to begin preparations for the tournament.
"I've never seen anything like it," Maneri said. "We came to practice and as soon as you walked in they were going crazy for us and we're like, 'What's going on?' They were like, 'Go Lehigh, beat Duke!' They were screaming. It was nice to have fans here that weren't Duke.
“But I've never seen two schools that hate each other so much. I mean, I’m a Yankees fan and I hate the Red Sox, but I don’t go around to everyone who is playing the Red Sox and say, ‘Beat the Red Sox!’ It’s funny. They’re intense.”
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