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The weekend of February 16-18, Duke Rec & P.E. hosted a regional extramural basketball tournament. Driven by our Intramural Sports staff, this tournament was open to intramural and club teams from all over the country, primarily targeted to teams in the southeast region of the country. This tournament ran in affiliation with NIRSA, which is the national governing body for campus recreation in the US and Canada. 

On February 16, 29 teams from around the country made their way to Wilson Recreation Center. All on a mission to beat all opponents and win that regional title, which would give them a free automatic bid to the national basketball tournament in Wisconsin, Madison later this semester. Each team played 2 pool play games and were all advanced to the bracket, guaranteeing them three games. 

Another important aspect of NIRSA tournaments is student official development. There were 21 student officials from intramural sport programs from schools all throughout the east coast here to gain extramural officiating experience, get feedback from experience basketball officials who evaluated and developed them all weekend, and for a chance to also be awarded a bid to nationals. The top three officials were awarded bids.  

Teams rolled in Friday afternoon and had the opportunity to have team shoot arounds in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Notable games Friday night, we had a rematch of last year’s men’s championship between Clemson and NC A&T. Clemson barely edged out the Aggies with a 53-50 victory. On the women’s side, the reigning national champs, Wisconsin Red, took care of business beating Georgia Tech 60-19. 

Saturday, most teams came back with one game under their belt with one more pool play game to solidify their ranking in the bracket. Men’s Texas A&M were not shy about taking advantage of point differential tie-breaker and handily beat the University of Richmond 105-44. Florida’s women’s team made light work of Duke’s own women’s team, winning 42-30. At the start of bracket play, two shocking teams were out early on the men’s side. Our champions (Clemson) and runners-up (NC A&T) were knocked out in the first round. 

While bracket play started for the men’s and women’s divisions, the Unified pool play games commenced. Unified basketball is a partnership with Special Olympics where university students play alongside community members with intellectual disabilities. UNC Chapel Hill’s team won both of the pool play games over both Duke Unified teams by 24 and 49. Then the Duke Warriors vs the Duke Allstars game came down to the wire with the Allstars squeaking out a 1-point victory. 

Everyone woke up on Sunday, exhausted but ready to take on the third day of the tournament. The men’s and women’s bracket started with the semifinal games. Wisconsin Red defeated UCF Women’s 55-24. It looked like the defending champs were unstoppable. South Carolina Women took down Florida 40-25. In a heated game, Texas A&M Men’s beat Campbell 46-31. Tournament first-timers South Carolina State earned their spot in the championship by defeating ETSU 75-63.  

The stage was set, (w) Wisconsin- Red vs. South Carolina, (m) Texas A&M vs. SC State, and (u) UNC Chapel Hill vs. Duke Allstars. Starting with Unified, Duke Allstars scored the most they ever have against UNC but still fell short. UNC Chapel Hill crowned the Unified champions. Next South Carolina upset the Wisconsin-Red team in a very defensive game by 7 points. Last game of the day, the men’s championship. Texas A&M were the presumed favorites, but SC State made them earn it in a very physical game. In the end, Texas A&M emerged the winners. 

We want to thank all of the tournament volunteers from around the country who traveled to help run this tournament. Thank you to all of the referees who gave their time to officiate our games. Congratulations to our All-Tournament referees: Daija Carr (Georgia Southern), Ashley Chaluisan (UCF), Xach Goldsmith (Clemson), Maddie Hickey (Loyola Maryland)*, Nick Thorpe (USF)*, and Niki Garcia (Florida)*. The last three officials were also given bids to officiate at nationals. 

This event was such a great opportunity to showcase Duke and the Recreation and Physical Education department at the regional level. We look forward to running it back… next year? 

Image Credit: Duke Rec & P.E., 2024