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Mercer, Florida-Gulf Coast prove there’s more than one way to pull an upset

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The darlings of the 2013 NCAA tournament came from #DunkCity, as Florida-Gulf Coast alley-ooped their way from a No. 16 seed to the Sweet 16, knocking off No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State in the process.

They were fun. They were exciting. They were basically the Harlem Globetrotters.

What they weren’t, however, was the regular season champion of the Atlantic Sun. That title belonged to Mercer, a team that has put themselves in a position to be this season’s cinderella story. That’s typically what happens when you are a No. 14 seed that pulls off an upset of a No. 3 seed that just so happens to Duke, a team that features a top three pink in the NBA Draft, one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball and the kind of name-brand that is impossible to replicate.

RELATED: Mercer guard dances the Nae Nae  |  Epic postgame interview with the coach

Not every cinderella is built the same, however, and this Mercer team is not all that much like FGCU.

Last season, the Eagles were college basketball’s version of showtime. Their offense was built around Brett Comer and his ability to lead the break. They flourished in transition, taking advantage of the myriad of long, lanky and athletic front court players and the fact that Comer had a flair for throwing perfectly-timed lobs.

They fed off of emotion, and the fact that they were a thrill to watch made them immediate fan favorites.

Mercer is similar is that their offense is structured around their point guard, but this team is not a high-flying act. They’re more of a traditional mid-major: loaded with seniors, extremely well-coached, playing with a calmness that you can only see out of a group of guys that have spent four years together.

RELATED: Duke’s worst NCAA tournament losses

Mercer has a ton of shooters, ranking top 25 nationally in three-point percentage, which allows them to spread the floor and let Langston Hall operate. Against Duke, he picked apart their defense with pick-and-roll actions.

How they do it doesn’t really matter when it comes down to it.

What’s relevant is that both teams are good enough at what they do to beat some of the best teams in the country.

There’s more than one way to pull an upset, and the Atlantic Sun have proven that the last two years.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)