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Cooper: North Carolina is 'center of college basketball universe'

North Carolina doesn't just like college basketball. No, we love it. So much so that Gov. Cooper declared the state the "center of the college basketball universe."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina takes its college basketball seriously. So seriously, in fact, that Gov. Roy Cooper issued a proclamation Thursday declaring the state is the "center of the college basketball universe."

Duke and North Carolina, arguably the two biggest rivals in all of sports, will meet in the Final Four Saturday. It will be the first meeting between the legendary programs in NCAA Tournament history. Duke reached the Final Four with a win over Arkansas, while North Carolina continued its surprising March Madness run with a dominant victory over Cinderella St. Peter's. 

"North Carolina is OFFICIALLY the center of the college basketball universe," Cooper tweeted, along with a video showcasing some of the rivalry's biggest moments. 

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Duke and UNC have met 256 times, including Mike Krzyzewski's final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels spoiled his big going away party with an upset win over the Blue Devils. 

Cooper's proclamation went beyond just UNC and Duke, recognizing legends of the game like Charlotte's Steph Curry, Tim Duncan, David Thompson and Chris Paul. He also praised some UNC and Duke icons, including Michael Jordan and Grant Hill. 

Cooper also honored NC State's women's team and coach Wes Moore and Wake Forest's men's team, which was led by ACC Coach of the Year Steve Forbes and ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams. 

Each school received about 700 tickets for students to attend Saturday's game in New Orleans. Those tickets will be distributed through a school lottery system. 

"I think it's the most important basketball game in history," Cassandra Berens, a junior at UNC, said. "I think the situation couldn't be written better. I'm just so grateful to be a Tar Heel student during the season."

The game is so big that country music star Eric Church, a lifelong UNC fan, canceled a concert in San Antonio, Texas, so he could be there in person. Church acknowledged it was the most selfish thing he'd done, and many fans shared their disappointment and anger on social media for his decision. 

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