The nation watch wide eyed as the seconds ticked down on the clock. The Duke Blue Devils, one of college basketball’s blueblood programs, was on the verge of being knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first round by a group of kids from Macon.
The Mercer Bears finished off the upset 78-71, in a thrilling game on March 21, 2014. The site of the game was in Raleigh, North Carolina, home of the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
The Bears will travel back to that arena on Saturday to square off with the Wolfpack. It will be the first trip back since the tournament for Mercer. Head Coach Bob Hoffman isn’t focusing a lot on the past.
“The NCAA Tournament was a fantastic experience and one that I will never forget and thrilled that I was a part of,” Hoffman said. “But we are not going to dwell on that. We are going to be focusing on trying to find a way to beat NC State and make some new memories.”
This group of Mercer players was not around when the Bears pulled of the upset, but they know they history of the program and what happened in the building. Senior Cory Kilby said that while the team hasn’t talked about it, he knows that it will be big for the team and his coach.
“I am sure it will be big for Coach Hoffman and he will be fired up and that is going to get us fired up,” Kilby said. “I think the energy is going to be really good for us in that arena.”
For Kilby this is also a chance to visit his family. They recently moved to Raleigh and some of the other guys on the team are also from the state. The chance to play an ACC team while also getting some fan and family support will be good for the team, he said.
“Any time we get to play a big school like this it is going to give us a chance to show what we are capable of,” Kilby said. “I am going to have my family there. A lot of the guys are going to have friends and family there so we are fired up to play.”
To play against a team in NC State that has beaten every opponent this season by double digits is a chance for Mercer to make a statement.
“They are ready to have a new chapter and make some new memories,” Hoffman said. “Maybe we can do some of that Saturday night.”