Standing alone, Coach Mike Krzyzewski bringing Duke to another Final Four isn't anything new. When you turn this into his final season as coach and his final March Madness run it becomes historic.
Krzyzewski just turned 75 in February and before that had announced he would be competing in his last season as Duke's Men's basketball Head Coach. He's held this position for 41 years and has made the final weekend of the tournament a record-breaking 12 times. Just about every stat Coach K has for the tournament is a record, with the most tournament games, most wins, highest winning percentage amongst active head coaches and reaching the Sweet Sixteen six more times than any other coach.
Just in this season, the Blue Devils have amassed a 28-6 record before the tournament, including making it to the ACC tournament final before losing to Virginia Tech.
Whether it was the loss or the realization Coach K's next loss will be his last, this team has had a fire lit in them. In their first four games of March Madness they are averaging just under 80 points per game and playing great team basketball.
On the court they are led by future NBA talents Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin and Mark Williams. Banchero has been their leading scorer this tournament averaging 18 points per game and is likely to go in the first three picks in the draft come April while Griffin and Williams are both expected in the top 10. This team's balance on both ends of the court is what makes them so dangerous to the remaining teams left in the tournament.
The experience factor Coach K brings to them is invaluable. He will be competing in his 22nd Final Four game next Friday against the winner of North Carolina versus Saint Peter's. No matter the opponent this game will be a spectacle, including possibly the biggest underdog story in March Madness history in Saint Peter's, or the undeniable biggest rivalry in college hoops; Duke versus UNC.
The rise of Saint Peter's has been the talk of the tourney so far, being the first 15 seed to ever make the Elite Eight. If they were to somehow defeat UNC tonight and face off against Duke in the next round it would be the ultimate David vs Goliath matchup. On the other hand, If UNC were to squash the small university, they would challenge Duke for the third time this year after splitting their first two contests. Only an 8-seed themselves, UNC had a good season under first year head coach Hubert Davis but failed to make the conference final after also losing to Virginia Tech. Their 24-9 record had them in the middle of the pack but thanks to their tournament-best 87 points per game in their first three games this tournament, they are the favorites to meet Duke in the Final Four.
No matter who Duke faces it will be a game filled with emotion, grit and high stakes. Krzyzewski has promised this will be his last year coaching but he surely will not go quietly. For the all time leader in almost every March Madness stats that matters, he wants to deliver a sixth National Championship to the university built almost entirely on his back. Currently the favorites to win the whole thing and awaiting a matchup against a bottom half-seeded team guaranteed, Duke will likely ride this emotional high straight into a National Championship come next week. With all the surprises that are coming over the next 7 days it will still be a tough road for them, but if there was any coach capable and deserving of this fairytale ending, it's Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.
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Stay tuned as we continue coverage of the 2022 Men's Mach Madness tournament all the way through the Final Four.