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Mercer confident a day ahead of NCAA Tournament game against Duke

The Mercer Bears hit the floor for practice Thursday just one day ahead of their game against Duke.
RALEIGH, N.C. (41NBC/WMGT) - The last time Mercer played in an NCAA Tournament game, none of the current Bears were even alive.

That was way back in 1985, when the Bears fell to Georgia Tech in the first round.  The school also made an appearance in the 1981 NCAA Tournament, a first round loss to Arkansas.

This year's group is trying to become the first to win a tournament game.  Friday, they'll take on the winningest NCAA Tournament team of all-time.

"I mean it's Duke," Ike Nwamu, a sophomore, says.  "But we're just going to prepare like we have been all season.  We've played a lot of tough teams in a lot of tough environments, so we're not scared at all."

Confidence is oozing out of the Bears a day ahead of their game against Duke, but they know beating the Blue Devils will be a tough task.

"I mean, they're unbelievable at everything," Bob Hoffman, head coach, says.  "They're so athletic. They've got two high level pros."

Kevin Canevari, a senior, agrees.

"They have great athletes, great players, so we're definitely going to have to have really good defensive transition and we're going to have to communicate, play for each other, play together."

That philosophy of playing together has worked well so far for the Bears.  Seven seniors are on this year's roster, which actually makes Mercer one of the more experienced teams in the tournament.

"I think that that's a big point in how we're so successful," Anthony White Jr., a senior, says.  "Just knowing that each game could be our last.  from the beginning of the conference tournament, we knew each game could be our last, and that makes us just play that much harder."

Being confident doesn't mean these players don't have any butterflies. After all, they are getting ready to play the biggest game of their lives.

"I'm getting a little bit nervous," Daniel Coursey, a senior, says.  "Just ready to play them.  It's been a whole week just thinking about it.  I mean it's kind of crazy that we're finally here."

Mercer and Duke tip off the action here in Raleigh Friday afternoon at 12:15.

41NBC will be at the game and we'll provide post-game coverage on the news at 6.


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