The Duke Blue Devils lost in the Final Four to end Coach K’s career, but was the Hall of Famer responsible for the loss to North Carolina?
The hottest ticket in March Madness history lived up to the hype as Duke and North Carolina played a thriller in New Orleans on Saturday night. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, they came up short as the Tar Heels pulled out an 81-77 win to end Mike Krzyzewski’s Hall of Fame career in a disappointing fashion.
Caleb Love torched Duke all night long, scoring 28 points to lead all scorers and nailed a back-breaking three-pointer in the final minute to extend the Tar Heels’ lead to four. A late rally attempt came up short for the Blue Devils as Coach K’s career came to an end in a ridiculous game that saw the lead change hands 18 times over the course of the night.
Is Coach K responsible for Duke’s loss in the Final Four?
There isn’t much that Krzyzewski could have done differently to help Duke pick up a win here. In a shocking twist of fate for Duke fans, the referees actually hurt the Blue Devils early by whistling six first-half fouls on Mark Williams and Theo John, severely hampering the Duke interior.
The pressure of the moment also weighed heavily on the Blue Devils, who notably shot just 12-of-20 from the free-throw line with two key misses from Williams that immediately preceded the Love three-pointer serving as the turning point. Duke was also ice cold from the perimeter, knocking down just 5-of-22 three-point attempts, making the fact that they were in position to win in the final minutes a credit to Krzyzewski’s coaching.
All of that won’t matter for the history books, however, which will now note that Coach K had his final home game and final NCAA Tournament game ruined with a loss to Duke’s most bitter rival. This defeat will sting for a long time and leave incoming head coach Jon Scheyer with a big challenge as he succeeds Krzyzewski next season.