SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- From North Carolina to the Inland Northwest, it's 2,500 miles.
One North Carolina Tar Heels fan who now lives in the Spokane area is in enemy territory as his team faces Gonzaga Monday night for the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship. Maurice Smith has been down this road before. Not just the Centennial Trail he walks daily but being a Tar Heels fan during a deep run in the big dance.
“It's always fun to see the alma mater doing well,” Maurice said.
The UNC alum is not shy about his favorite team.
“Carolina has five national championships, so we've been there a few times and that's always exciting,” he said. “It never gets old.”
But, his wife Gale is pulling for Gonzaga.
“Kind of a divided household here,” said Gale.
“You need to enjoy every minute of it, but we're going to beat ya,” said Maurice.
“We just ignore him,” Gale said laughing.
But Maurice does have some good things to say about the Bulldogs.
“I'm excited for Gonzaga because been there and I know what that feels like. It's tough to know what to root for. Not really, I know who to root for. I wish them well because Mark Few is just a class guy,” he said.
Back on the trail, Maurice doesn’t back away from Zags fans.
“I was a Heel from '72 to '76. Good luck. May the best team win,” he said.
He has been down this road before but it’s a lonely one up here.