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Houston, as the number one seed in the South Region, is getting ready to play against Duke in the Sweet 16

Houston, as a No. 1 seed in the South Region and making their fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, is playing in their home state of Texas.

Houston, a number one seed in the South Region, is playing in its home state of Texas and is in the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive year in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cougars are currently having their best March Madness run in 40 years, led by All-America point guard Jamal Shead, big man J’Wan Roberts, and coach Kelvin Sampson. They were champions in the Big 12 regular season and ranked in the top 10 in the AP poll throughout the season.

Shead mentioned that the team's motivation and winning culture have remained consistent throughout his four years at Houston, crediting Coach Sampson for the team's success.

The Cougars, with a record of 32-4, will face Duke, with a record of 26-8, at the Dallas Mavericks' home court. Another game in Dallas will feature N.C. State against Marquette, with former Texas coach Shaka Smart.

Duke was not in the NCAA field when Houston reached consecutive Final Fours in 1982, and Houston lost to coach Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack in a memorable championship game the following year. Duke made its first NCAA tourney with Coach K in 1984.

Duke has a strong history in NCAA tournaments, with five national championships. Second-year Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer won a title as a player in 2010 and was an assistant coach for their most recent championship in 2015.

After 34 years without a March Madness win, Houston has started an active run of Sweet 16 appearances, matched only by Midwest Region No. 5 seed Gonzaga.

Houston has been building its team for several years, according to Duke's Scheyer, who emphasized the team's winning mentality and belief.

Houston's Shead and Roberts have achieved the most wins in a four-year span in school history, with their latest victory being a 100-95 overtime win against Texas A&M.

Duke experienced a setback in their regular-season end and conference tournament, losing to N.C. State in the latter and missing out on a share of the ACC regular-season title.

Jeremy Roach, a guard for Duke, said that despite knowing their own skill, the team felt less confident after two losses. However, getting their first NCAA win against Vermont helped boost their confidence and led them to their current position. Roach emphasized the need to maintain that confidence.

N.C. State is the only remaining double-digit seed, holding the same No. 11 seed that Smart’s VCU team had during their surprising Final Four run in 2011.

N.C. State has been playing elimination games after entering the ACC Tournament on a difficult streak of seven losses in nine games. The Wolfpack secured the league’s automatic NCAA bid by winning five games in five days, followed by victories against Texas Tech and Oakland.

Wolfpack guard Casey Morsell explained that their postseason approach was to treat each game as its own championship, and this philosophy has continued into the tournament.

This is the first regional semifinal for Marquette since their three consecutive appearances from 2011-13. It also marks the first time Smart has reached this stage in his 10 NCAA appearances, including his time with VCU, Texas, and the Golden Eagles.

Smart expressed a desire not to dwell on the past, as it may take away from the enjoyment of future achievements, leading to overwhelming relief as the prevailing emotion even when something fun and exciting occurs.

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