COVID-19 impacted Duke’s NCAA chances during the 2020-2021 season

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Duke’s unfortunate performance has upset many college basketball fans. Coach K is hopeful for a better year.

By: Joseph Sanfilippo, Editor

Duke’s History

Due to COVID-19, the NCAA has changed dramatically. There were many changes and surprises this season involved with many of its teams. The Duke Blue Devils faced a massive upset this year after being known as one of the best NCAA teams. The Blue Devils have appeared in 43 NCAA tournaments since 1955. This is the first time in 17 years that they won’t be in the tournament.

In their 43 appearances, Duke has won five national championships. The Blue Devils have also appeared in the championship game eleven times. It’s a safe bet to call that they’re one of the best teams in the NCAA.
Although COVID-19 is still present, the virus played an impact in their upsetting role this season. Duke’s performance during the regular season was lackluster, to say the least. The Blue Devils finished tenth in their conference with a 9-9 record with a total record of 11-11 during the regular season.

Fanfare

Michael Sanfilippo strongly believes that “Duke’s best win came at the expense of then ranked number 15 Virginia. You need to win at least five strength of schedule wins during the season, and close to another 20 win season as well.” Duke’s only chance to make the NCAA tournament would have been to win their own conference championship. (ACC) They were on the right path with two wins in their tournament, reaching the semi-finals but one of their players tested positive for COVID-19.

With Duke not being in the tournament, will fans still watch? Duke alumni and Colonia English teacher Daniel Hutchinson had this to say. “I’ll borrow a line from Zion Williamson – If Duke ain’t in, I’m not interested. But in all seriousness, I still love basketball and this is the best time of year.  It will be weird not having Duke to root for, and I will certainly miss all the hate that we usually receive this time of year.  Still, there are some good teams and some good players and there is still a lot of good basketball left to watch.  The best part about March Madness is Cinderella – so I’ll be on the lookout for that team that might fit the glass slipper this year.  Underdogs are always fun to root for (unless they’re going up against Duke).

COVID-19

Duke’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, “We have not asked more of any team in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men they are.”

“We are disappointed we cannot keep fighting together as a group after two outstanding days in Greensboro. This season was a challenge for every team across the country and as we have seen over and over, this global pandemic is very cruel and is not over yet. As many safeguards as we implemented, no one is immune to this terrible virus.”

The Future of the Program

Many schools use making the NCAA tournament as recruiting element. Future players want to showcase their talents on national TV and the NCAA tournament is just the place to do that. Schools who generally get into the tournament have an easier time recruiting big players than those who don’t make tournament.

When asked about the impact not being in the tournament could have on Duke’s program, Hutchinson stated, “I don’t think there will be a tremendous impact moving forward on the program.  In the short-term, Duke is Duke and Coach K is still one of the greatest coaches to ever be involved in the sport at any level.  Recruiting shouldn’t take a hit. Though, an overlooked consequence that won’t be seen (hopefully) for a few more years is one that affects the next coach.  While blasphemous to even suggest that there will be another coach, it’s clear that Coach K won’t be around forever.  But, now, when the new coach steps in, there may be somewhat less pressure because there won’t be all these “consecutive tournaments made…” stats hanging over the new coach’s head.  I realize the specter of Coach K will always follow this program, but the lack of success this year, under Coach K, might actually help the next coach they bring in.  In another decade or so when Coach K is ready to retire, that is.”

Without Duke being involved in the NCAA Tournament, they will be missing out on a team with a rich history. Duke has appeared sixteen final fours and thirty-one sweet sixteens.

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