Outside of the Paige residence in Marion, Iowa the cement basketball court on which the siblings grew up is now painted — half red, half light blue.
One section is for the Tar Heels and Marcus, the junior guard on the North Carolina men’s basketball team. The other represents the Badgers and Morgan, Marcus Paige’s older sister who graduated from Wisconsin in May and now plays professionally in Romania. The Paige siblings are 15 months apart and spent hours playing pickup, practicing dunks on lowered rims and working out with each other on the court for years before their father painted it in honor of their universities.
Now the Paige children’s two schools, UNC and Wisconsin, will clash in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night in Los Angeles. The fourth-seeded Tar Heels beat Harvard and Arkansas in the second and third rounds in Jacksonville, Fla., while the top-seeded Badgers in the West Region defeated Coastal Carolina and Oregon in Omaha, Neb.
“The paint is blue,” Morgan joked earlier in the season about the backyard court. “I graduated, so now that my basketball career is done I start seeing less and less red around the house. I’m like, ‘I know, I understand, I get it. But do we just throw it all away? Are we just a blue family now?’”
Morgan was kidding, but on Thursday night when the lights power up in The STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Marcus knows that, jokes aside, Morgan will be on his side. For at least one night, she’s told him she can put aside her allegiance to Wisconsin and root for her younger brother and the Tar Heels.