Final Four Snaps College Basketball Back to Reality

The Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll ranked Kansas third, Villanova fourth, Duke ninth and North Carolina 19th — the Blue Devils ra...


The Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll ranked Kansas third, Villanova fourth, Duke ninth and North Carolina 19th — the Blue Devils ranked so low solely because of their youth. The Tar Heels were not rated higher because their coach, Hubert Davis, was new to the profession.

Duke starts five McDonald’s All-Americans and brings another to the bench. North Carolina is talented enough that Walker Kessler, a third all-American team at Auburn this season left Chapel Hill because he could barely get off the bench.

It’s no wonder that Duke and North Carolina, a rivalry with such a rich historical vein, are the main event of the national semifinals. The two programs, whose arenas are less than 11 miles apart along Tobacco Road, will play for the 257th time, but the first in an NCAA tournament.

North Carolina has already ruined the Cameron Indoor Stadium farewell to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is retiring after this season, his 42nd in school. Now the Tar Heels can once again torment the Blue Devils and their coach, denying him a sixth national championship.

This game, on the last day of the regular season, was a pivotal moment for both teams. North Carolina emerged from the tournament bubble with the win and looked nearly unbeatable for portions of the tournament. The Tar Heels blasted Marquette and blitzed Baylor, winning in overtime after surviving what would have been an ignominious collapse. Caleb Love’s searing second half carried North Carolina past UCLA And against St. Peters, the Tar Heels dominated.

For Duke, the home loss was a calculation. Bit by bit in this tournament, the Blue Devils found a courage they had rarely shown in the regular season, rallying late to beat Michigan State and Texas Tech, and fend off an Arkansas charge.

“No matter what you do as a coach, they have to show that level of character, and in this tournament it really lifted them up,” Krzyzewski said on Saturday night, adding: “I loved them before, but now I respect them so much.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Final Four Snaps College Basketball Back to Reality
Final Four Snaps College Basketball Back to Reality
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