It seems like a decade ago that we saw Duke hand Kentucky a 118-84 neutral court loss in a game where the Blue Devils seemingly scored at will.
Armed with the top three freshmen in America according to ESPN, then #4 Duke stormed Indianapolis and ran right through #2 Kentucky on their way to a 34-point blowout win over John Calipari and the Wildcats.
Many crowned Duke the National Champion in early November and we were prepared to watch the rest of College Basketball fight for second place. Coach K and the Blue Devils were 23-2, including two wins over top 5 Virginia, and looked to be the class of the NCAA.
Then Nike happened.
During the always highly anticipated Duke vs. UNC game February 20th, Duke star forward, Zion Williamson, slipped while trying to pivot and blew right through his Nike-made shoe. Yes, Williamson’s shoe exploded, twisting his left knee and sending him to the floor clinching the leg in pain. The Duke world collectively gasped in horror as they saw their National Championship rolling on the floor in obvious discomfort.
In all honesty, I too was upset to see the injury and was pleased to learn it was just a sprain. No one should rejoice at an opposing player being injured, especially one who is mere months away from a multi-million dollar payday. Do I want to see Duke hoist another trophy? Of course not, but I am not willing to sacrifice decency for win’s. Yet.
North Carolina would go on to win the game in decisive fashion at Cameron Indoor by double digits. The first of two wins vs. Duke this season.
Without Zion, Duke has proven to be an average team capable of losing to anyone, on any night. With a healthy Zion, they are the favorites in College basketball. Many have speculated Zion could be done with his college career in order to protect himself for the NBA and the spoils that comes with it, but the answer is likely a simple one – Duke didn’t need Zion to finish the season. They need him to end the season in Minneapolis at the Final Four.
The best opposing fans can do is hope the rumors are true, Zion will shut it down for the remainder of the season. But until that happens, prepare to see something we really don’t want to see: Coach K spooning with another National Championship trophy.