Pair of Long Islanders take top billing at Final Four

Chris Daughrty performs the U.S. national anthem before

Chris Daughrty performs the U.S. national anthem before an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game between Connecticut and Florida on Saturday, April 5, 2014. (Credit: AP / David J. Phillip)

Gregory Halperin picked a pretty good day to decide to become an exclamation point.

When Halperin -- who grew up in Dix Hills -- was an undergraduate at Duke, he was permitted to sit in the front row of one of the student sections with several of his friends at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to watch his beloved Blue Devils take on Butler in the 2010 men's basketball championship . . . under one stipulation.

His friends each painted a letter on their faces to spell "L-E-T-S-G-O-D-U-K-E," but they wanted an exclamation point. Halperin, wearing the same Kyle Singler jersey that he said he has worn to nearly 50 Blue Devils games, was told that joining them in the front row meant becoming the exclamation point to the sentence.



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"I didn't mind really at all," said Halperin, 24, who is studying at Harvard Law School. "I thought it was pretty cool."

So did a camera at the time and NCAA billboard decision-makers later, apparently.

Halperin and longtime buddy Michael Schneider, 24, of Roslyn, also a Duke undergrad then, were captured in a photo moments after Duke beat Butler to win the title. Now the photo is being used as part of a billboard on top of one of the admission gates at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, site of this year's Final Four.

"I had gone down there to the front after the game and it was awesome," said Schneider, who attends Stony Brook's School of Medicine. "We found out Monday or Tuesday that it was on the billboard after one of our friends showed it to us. It's pretty awesome."

Added Halperin, "I've been shown on big screens and stuff for a few seconds, but this is a lot more lasting."

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