North Carolina is the center of the basketball universe this week as Tarheels and Blue Devils agonize over the very first NCAA Championship matchup between Duke and UNC in all of hoops history.

It’s quite something. But it’s bigness deeply detracts from the NC angle in the women’s NCAA championship, in which the NC State squad heroically advanced to the final eight teams before losing to UConn in the Greensboro Coliseum.

We apologize here and now for not covering those games as we have covered local basketball championships in the past. It had less to do with misogyny then with our sportswriter’s personal issues, but still: We should have sent a writer and photographer to those games and we’re sorry we didn’t.

Less sorry is Justice Clarence Thomas, whose moves on the court these days include acting as the lone dissenting vote on a decision to turn Trump documents over to the House Jan. 6 panel. He’s being overshadowed this week by his own wife, Ginni. Ms. Thomas’ right-wing political activism is well known, but we didn’t know she had a direct channel to NC’s own Mark Meadows until the Washington Post broke the story of her 29 separate text messages, each imploring Trump’s chief of staff to overturn the 2020 election using debunked QAnon theories: She texted Meadows on Nov. 5 that Joe Biden had been arrested for sedition and was awaiting trial at GITMO, for example. On Nov. 19, she implored Meadows: “Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.”

No word yet from her husband — who was released from the hospital four days ago after being admitted with flu-like symptoms last week — on whether he’ll recuse himself from any Jan. 6 cases or, as some have suggested, outright resign. Like Coach K! But with more disgrace.

And then there’s our own NC Supreme Court, which has been charged with making a consequential decision on an appeal to the Leandro decision from 1997 (and again in 2004), in which it was decreed that our state’s spending on public schools was so low as to be unconstitutional.

It was Judge David W. Lee, a Democrat by the way, who ordered the Republican-led General Assembly to steer $1.7 billion more towards education back in November. And it was Chief Justice Paul Newby, a Republican, who last week pulled Lee off the case and assigned it instead to Judge Michael Robinson, a Republican.

No wonder people care so much about basketball right now. Everything else looks rigged.

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