Could the Duke Blue Devils possibly get any less credit for snapping the Butler Bulldogs’ 25-game winning streak and capturing the NCAA championship?
They had an easy path to the championship. They don’t have any surefire NBA talent. They were a three-point shooting team that got very lucky. They get too much media attention.
No, they’re just better than your team.
There is no easy path to winning an NCAA championship. Let’s recap how the other number one seeds did: Kansas lost to the college basketball juggernaut that is Northern Iowa. Kentucky, with their epic NBA talent, lost to West Virginia by 7 points, then watched Duke blow the Mountaineers out of the gym by 21 points. Syracuse got beat by Butler in the Sweet 16, but it’s not like Duke had to beat Butler to win the championship or anything…
What else did Duke do wrong? Well, they did beat America’s unexpected sweetheart story in Butler’s own backyard to win the title. The same unexpected Cinderella team that came into the championship game riding a 25-game winning streak and a preseason top 10 ranking.
The fans and media may not have gotten the “great” story they wanted in David upsetting Goliath, but there are still plenty of good stories to be had.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski's won his fourth NCAA title to cement his legacy as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all-time. Senior starters Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas finally managed to capture the championship that eluded them in years past. Duke keeps their players in school longer than the one-and-done factories that are Ohio State and any team coached by John Calipari.
The “Duke-hate” didn’t start when they won the championship. When the Blue Devils got demolished by Georgetown at the end of January, we heard they were overrated. When they won 12 of their last 13 games going at the end of the season, we heard that the ACC was weak this year. When the experts looked at the brackets, there were a whole lot of justifications for why Butler, West Virginia, Baylor, Purdue or California would end up one-upping Krzyzweski’s bunch. Even Barack Obama had them losing in the Elite 8.
Not that it mattered to Duke. They knew they were good; they didn’t need the know-it-all ESPN anchors, crazy fans, or the president of the United States to tell them so. Then, when it mattered most, they proved it to the world.
Sports fans cheer for underdogs because they never see those teams coming. Well, Duke was a team counted out from the get-go that came in and triumphantly restored their school to the top of the college basketball food chain.
The great story is there, you just have to want to see it.