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Mar
29
2015

Duke carries the ACC Flag into the Final 4.

Okafor

 

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. 

It’s difficult to make the claim as the nation’s top basketball conference, without at least a one Final 4 team, but obviously the ACC doesn’t have to worry about that now.

The road to a national title won’t be easy for Duke though. Duke’s first opponent will be a Michigan State that is playing it’s best basketball of the year. They took down Louisville in the Elite 8. Tom Izzo is arguably the best March coach in the business. This isn’t his most talented Spartan team, but Izzo has them confident and playing well. Duke should expect nothing but an excellent game.

Should Duke survive that game, they will get the winner of KentuckyWisconsin. We know about undefeated Kentucky. Their size is unmatched college basketball. They play suffocating defense, and if they are on offensively, they can be nearly impossible to beat. Notre Dame proved though if you can spread the floor, and knock down open jumpers then you can play with Kentucky. Wisconsin can do that.

Frank Kaminsky can pull some of those Kentucky bigs to the perimeter. Sam Dekker also could prove to be a difficult matchup for Kentucky. I’m not sure the Badger guards can get into the lane like the Irish guards could, but Wisconsin is more than capable of beating the Wildcats. I wouldn’t consider them a heavy underdog.

Duke probably has the best starting 5 of the Final 4 teams. They are talented at every position. For Duke to win it all, they will need their bench to provide solid minutes. I would also like to see Jahlil Okafor be more assertive. Against Utah he was frequently double teamed which limited him, but Gonzaga played him more straight up and he still struggled.

We’ll see how Duke does, but it is about time the ACC is represented in the Final 4.

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