Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

North Carolina Becomes Center of Basketball Action

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

North Carolina Becomes Center of Basketball Action

Article excerpt

SPORTS-WISE, nothin' could be finah than to be in Carolina these days. North Carolina, that is. The state has always gone bonkers over college basketball, and this year the sport's two major college championship tournaments touch down in North Carolina. Charlotte hosts the men's Final Four April 2 and 4; Richmond has the women in town April 2 and 3 for their tournament semifinals and final.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets roll on as the National Basketball Association's attendance kings. They've held that status four of the five years they've been in the league, and sell out 23,698 seats game after game.

Once the basketball cheering stops, the state's residents have pro football to look forward to, beginning in 1995, when the expansion Carolina Panthers first take the field.

Olympic speed-skater Dan Jansen, whose brother-in-law is part owner of the Panthers, wore a Panthers cap during last month's Winter Games, so even he is wrapped in the state's sports glow. Jansen wrote a happy ending to his trying Olympic career with a world record and gold medal in his last race.

And the good winter vibrations don't end with Jansen. The Hornets may be the hottest regular attraction in Charlotte, but the city's reincarnated minor-league hockey team has been drawing surprisingly well, too. The Checkers have been averaging close to 7,800 spectators per game, raising hopes that the city may some day earn a National Hockey League expansion franchise. The current club is affiliated with the NHL's Boston Bruins.

Getting back to those two basketball finals, North Carolina's landing them is akin to Norway's hosting the Winter Olympics. There's probably no region in the country more zealous about the college game, and certainly no other state can claim two national powers of the caliber of the University of North Carolina and Duke University. …

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