Despite having three teams in the Elite Eight, only Duke was able to advance to the Final Four this weekend. The Blue Devils put together an impressive defensive display late in the game, while Matt Jones proved to be the unlikely hero.
The streak is dead. The ACC’s 4 year drought of having a team in the Final 4 has come to an end, thanks to the Duke Blue Devils. Duke took down Gonzaga in the Elite 8 66-52. It is Mike Krzyzewski’s 12th Final 4, and now he has a shot at an incredible 5th National Championship. The ACC had a fantastic NCAA tournament going 15-5 so far, but the NCAAs would have ended with a thud, if the conference hadn’t got a Final 4 team. As I said at the start of the tournament the, the ACC needed a Final 4 team.
Yessir!! Not only are the Blue Devils still dancing but they are now the 4th member of the final four. Duke takes down the mighty Gonzaga Bulldogs in the the South Regional final 66 to 52. It was as Coach K said, at the half, a game or runs. Duke built an 11 point lead in the first half, the Zags battled back to get it to 1. The Blue Devils then went on a run to build a 5 point halftime lead, then after the half the Zags quickly erased that lead before taking the lead and Duke on some hero shooting by Matt Jones and hero defense by Justise Winslow took the lead for good.
Notre Dame gave Kentucky all they could handle for about 38 minutes, but lack of execution late will haunt the Irish over the offseason. Ultimately, Kentucky prevailed and will advance to the Final Four to take on Wisconsin. The Badgers put togther an impressive second half, averaging 1.73 points per possession to take down Arizona.
When Syracuse and Pittsburgh joined the ACC, they instantly felt like part of the ACC. Syracuse\Duke basketball games in 2014 were instant ratings hit. Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald was part of a record setting haul of individual ACC football awards in 2013. Louisville joined the ACC this past year, their football team beat Notre Dame and finished in the top 25. Their basketball team has reached the Elite 8 and has been ranked in the top 20 all year. These felt like ACC programs quickly.
Duke and Louisville advance to the Elite Eight, while NC State's season ends. Notre Dame takes on Kentucky tonight, can the Irish end the Wildcats undefeated season? Check out links, predictions, previews, and more below.
Mike Krzyzewski and Duke were expected to reach the Elite 8, but that doesn’t make their run through the NCAAs any less meaningful. Ask top 2 seeds Kansas and Villanova if a high seed guarantees an Elite 8. Duke was in no position to assume they’d make the Elite 8 either, after getting bounced in the NCAA tournament before Elite 8 the three out of the last four years.