'It's a good problem to have': Sweet 16 for men, women's teams brings national spotlight to Triangle

Josh Chapin Image
Thursday, March 28, 2024
Sweet 16 for men, women's teams brings national spotlight to Triangle
The Triangle is in the spotlight as Duke, NC State, and UNC men's and women's basketball teams head to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Giovanna Horta is paying close attention to the Wolfpack now.

"I got really into it after we won the ACC Championship," said the NC State sophomore from Brazil. "Before that, I didn't even care."

Her friend Grayce Slade from High Point already was.

"A lot of people are going to the bars," Slade said. "Downtown Raleigh was crazy."

Men's and women's basketball has thrust the Triangle into the national spotlight.

"The catalyst of our region are major research universities: Duke, NC State, and UNC-Chapel Hill," said Ryan Combs, executive director of the Research Triangle Partnership. "To have all of them playing in the Sweet 16, in a huge exciting tournament that everyone tunes into, is great for us because it brings exposure."

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Combs' job is to market the area to the world. He also played baseball at NC State.

"Anytime we have the opportunity for our sports teams to be in the national spotlight, it shines a bright light on the whole region," Combs said.

The region is oozing with excitement including at RDU International Airport as Tar Heels fans caught a flight to Los Angeles Wednesday night.

The Duke men's team also boarded a plane to Dallas led by Coach Jon Scheyer and his daughter.

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"The mood on campus is wild," said Colby Trotter, sports editor for the NC State Technician, the student newspaper.

He went to Pittsburgh for the first two rounds but will be watching the men and women this weekend from Raleigh.

"The men haven't had this amount of coverage around them in a long time," Trotter said. "I know the women's team has been good for a long time. People are climbing the poles here, it's been wild. I know the school doesn't like this but it's a good problem to have, having success like this."