Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Sweet 16

On KHOU-TV Channel 11, the CBS affiliate at Houston, they are very excited about tonight's showdown with Arizona.  So is Ken Pomeroy -- he gives the Arizona/Houston game a "thrill score" of 86.5 -- the highest such score for any game this year.

Here is where the remaining teams rank on Ken Pom:

1.  Gonzaga:  28-3
2.  Houston:  31-5
3.  Arizona:  33-3
5.  Kansas:  30-6
6.  Texas Tech:  27-9
8.  UCLA:  27-7
10.  Duke:  30-6
11.  Villanova:  28-7
12.  Purdue:  29-7
18.  Arkansas:  27-8
22.  N. Carolina:  26-9
27.  Michigan:  19-14
32.  Providence:  27-5
38.  Iowa St:  22-12
45.  Miami (Fla.):  25-10
102.  Saint Peter's:  21-11

In other news, if you recall our feature about what the NCAA would look like in 16 regions, you may be interested to know that the following regions have been decided:

1st Region:  Providence:  27-5.  UConn is ranked higher on Ken Pom, but Providence has the results on the court -- and the Friars beat UConn 57-53 in their only meeting, back in December.

2d Region:  St. John's:  17-15.  Colgate was the only team from the Second Region to make the NCAA's, but St. John's was the highest-ranked team on Ken Pom -- and the Johnnies destroyed Colgate 82-64 back in December.

4th Region:  Virginia Tech:  23-13.  Won the ACC Tournament.  Also the only major conference team from the Fourth to make the NCAA's.

6th Region:  Miami (Fla.):  25-10.  In an upset, last week Miami whipped Auburn 79-61 to take the Sixth Region title.

7th Region:  Arkansas:  27-8.  Beat LSU three times, including a 79-67 hammering in the SEC Tournament.

8th Region:  Tennessee:  27-8.  Dominated UK 69-62 in the NCAA Tournament.  Memphis made a late run here, and a UT-Memphis showdown would have been great, but we give the edge to the Vols.

9th Region:  Ohio St.:  20-12.  Only team from the Ninth to make the NCAA Round of 32.

11th Region:  Iowa St:  22-12.  Last week, the Cyclones pulled a big upset, knocking off Wisconsin 54-49 in Milwaukee to take the Eleventh Region.

12th Region:  Kansas:  30-6.  Last week, the Jayhawks cruised past Creighton 79-72 to take the Twelfth.

14th Region:  Arizona:  33-3.  This region was never close.

15th Region:  Gonzaga:  28-3.  Neither was this one.

16th Region:  UCLA:  27-7.  Last week, UCLA beat Saint Mary's 72-56 to win the Sixteenth.

So under the regional format, the NCAA would look like this:

Miami (Fla.) v. Kansas
Villanova or St. Peter's v. Tennessee
Arizona v. Purdue or Michigan
Houston or Texas Tech v. Gonzaga
St. John's v. Duke or N. Carolina
Ohio St. v. UCLA
Iowa St. v. Providence
Virginia Tech v. Arkansas

101 comments:

  1. For the record, here's what happened to all the Kentucky schools in the regional system:

    UK lost to Memphis in the regional semi-finals
    U of L lost to Western in the district semi-finals
    Western lost to UK in the regional quarter-finals
    Murray lost to Tennessee in the regional semi-finals
    Eastern lost to Morehead in the district semi-finals
    Morehead lost to Murray in the regional quarter-finals
    Northern Kentucky lost to UK in the district quarter-finals
    Bellarmine wasn't eligible

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    1. Of course, NKU lost to UK in the district semi-finals, not the district quarter-finals.

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    2. In other news:

      Memphis lost to UT in the regional final
      Vandy lost to UT in the regional quarter-finals
      Chattanooga lost to Memphis in the regional quarter-finals
      Belmont lost to Vandy in the district semi-finals
      MTSU lost to UT in the district semi-finals
      Tennessee Tech lost to ETSU in the district first round

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  2. In the first real Sweet 16 in three years, Gonzaga leads Arkansas 9-8 with 15:42 left in the first half.

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  3. 11:54 left in the first half: Zags 16, Arkansas 14

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  4. Terrible charge call on Arkansas. Zags are only 2-9 from three-point range, but lead 22-17 with 8:02 left.

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  5. Still 22-17 with 7:26 left. It's an awkward game. Arkansas isn't used to dealing with anyone who can play offense. Gonzaga isn't used to anyone who can play defense. But unless Arkansas has a very unusual shooting night from the outside, the Razorbacks can't score enough points to keep up with Gonzaga.

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  6. I'm not convinced that Gonzaga can win the tournament, but I am convinced that Gonzaga is the only team that can eliminate Duke.

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  7. And, yes, I know Carolina won at Duke a few weeks ago. But I don't think UNC can do that again.

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  8. And, yes, I know that Duke has already beaten Gonzaga once. I fully expect Duke to beat Gonzaga if they play again. But the Zags have the firepower to compete with Duke.

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  9. Italy was eliminated from the World Cup today by North Macedonia. It will be the second World Cup in a row missed by Italy -- even though Italy won the European Championship last year. I wonder what the message boards are like over there.

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  10. On the other hand, Wales is still alive. The Welsh beat Austria 2-1. In June, Wales will play either Scotland or Ukraine for a spot in the World Cup.

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  11. With 10:28 left in the first half, Villanova leads Michigan 18-11.

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  12. Gonzaga is now 3-12 from three-point range. The Zags lead 27-26 with 2:46 left before halftime, but Arkansas has scored seven straight.

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  13. So far, the Gonzaga game is like a lower-quality version of the UK-St. Peter's game. Like Kentucky, Gonzaga is trying to force the pace -- but the Arkansas guards are too quick for this to work unless the Zags get hot from the outside.
    Neither team is shooting well now. Arkansas is 2-11 from three-point range, and 10-23 from two-point range. The Zags are 3-12 from three-point range, and 8-19 from two-point range.

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  14. Again, St. Peter's went 9-17 from three-point range against UK. If St. Peter's had started off 2-11 from three-point range, that game would have looked very different.

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  15. Arkansas misses yet another three-pointer, and is now 2-12 from long range. But they lead 30-29 with 37 seconds left in the half. Zags are 3-13 from three-point range. They call time.

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  16. Gonzaga called for charging. Arkansas gets one more chance with 6 seconds left. J.D. Notae drives through the whole Gonzaga team and makes a layup. If he did that to UK everyone would want to fire Calipari. Arkansas leads 32-29 at the half.

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  17. Gonzaga is actually playing too fast, given how badly they are shooting from the outside. Every three that they miss is basically a turnover and a potential run out for Arkansas. Drew Timme had only six of Gonzaga's 34 shots in the first half, mainly because the Zags were taking the first open look, instead of working the ball to Timme.

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  18. Notae is 5-14 from the field, including 0-3 from three-point range. Still, his 10 points lead all scorers, and he started going toward the basket at the end of the first half. If this turns into a close game where Notae and Jaylin Williams are running plays for Arkansas down the stretch, Gonzaga could be in real trouble.

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    1. At some point in these commentary, I started referring to Jaylin Williams as "Howard." I have no idea why -- I must have been thinking of Juwan Howard. My apologies to the superb Mr. Williams.

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  19. With 3:56 left in the first half, Michigan leads Villanova 22-20.

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  20. If Duke doesn't win it all this year, and Coach K retires with five titles, I will take the position that we got off easy.

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  21. Coach K's first season at Duke was the 1980-81 season. Here is a list of title winners during the Coach K era:

    T1. Coach K: 5 (1991, 92, 2001, 10, 15)
    T1. UNC: 5 (1982, 93, 2005, 09, 17)
    3. UConn: 4 (1999, 2004, 11, 14)
    T4. Villanova: 3 (1985, 2016, 18)
    T4. Kentucky: 3 (1996, 98, 2012)

    UK is the only team on that list that's not on the East Coast. We also went through six different coaches, while Duke had Coach K the whole time.

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  22. They are running a Hooters commercial, and I honestly didn't know that Hooters still existed.

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  23. By the way, here's the list for Adolph Rupp's years:

    1. UCLA: 7 (1964, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71)
    2. Kentucky: 4 (1948, 49, 51, 58)

    No one else with more than 2.

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  24. Villanova leads 31-28 at the half.

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  25. With 15:56 left, Arkansas leads 39-36. Now this game looks like a good version of UK v. St. Peter's. Gonzaga is trying harder to work the ball inside, and Notae is shredding the Zags' defense with great ball-handling and defense on the other end.

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  26. Ten minutes left. Arkansas leads 49-44.

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  27. That's four fouls on Chet Holmgren, who has 9 points and 10 rebounds for Gonzaga. Arkansas leads 52-46 with 8:32 left. Zags now 4-17 from three-point range. They are working the ball inside, and drawing fouls, but now they are only 6-11 from the line.

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  28. Arkansas still can't make any shots, but the Razorbacks have forced 14 turnovers while committing only 7. So Arkansas has now taken 60 shots, while Gonzaga has taken only 49.

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  29. Notae and Howard are doing exactly what they did to Kentucky, where they look like the world's best two-man pickup team. Notae will dribble, and dribble, and pass, and fake a shot, and fake a pass, and then with about five seconds left on the shot clock, either he or Howard will end up with a good shot. It looks very easy to stop -- you only have to defend two guys. But then they get it going, it's a nightmare. Arkansas leads 56-48 with 7:07 left.

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  30. With 8:45 left, Villanova leads 47-39.

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  31. With 6:46 left, Holmgren comes back in. Notae slings in a long three-pointer at the end of the shot clock. Arkansas goes up 59-50.

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  32. Holmgren makes it 59-52. Howard misses a jumper. Zags turn it over. Notae misses a three-pointer. Howard is called for a foul on the rebound. Gonzaga is in the double bonus, and the Zags have only been called for three fouls.

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  33. Timme makes two more free throws -- he is now 7-8 from the line. Arkansas leads 59-54 with 5:33 left.

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  34. Arkansas misses. Notae gets the rebound. Howard makes a three. Timme scores at the other end. Arkansas leads 62-56 with 4:18 left.

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    1. Williams, not Howard. Again, my bad.

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    2. I have a few things like this among my clients, and I don't even like to think of them for fear of putting them back in my head and repeating the same mistakes again.

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  35. Holmgren misses a three-pointer. Gonzaga gets the rebound, but misses the put back. Ball goes out of bounds to Arkansas. Razorbacks lead 62-56 with 3:52 left. Zags now 4-19 from three-point range.

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  36. Feels like a huge possession coming out of the media timeout. Arkansas will have the ball. If they can score, and go up 8 or 9 with less than four minutes, Gonzaga will really be in danger.

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  37. Coming out of the timeout, Notae drives at Holmgren -- and draws the foul! Holmgren is out! That takes away Gonzaga's biggest shot blocker.

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  38. Notae makes one FT. Arkansas leads 63-56 with 3:24 left.

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  39. Timme makes a tough shot. 63-58. Notae holds the ball and tries a step-back three. He misses, and Gonzaga races up the court for another three-pointer. No good. Notae puts Gonzaga in the blender again. This time Arkansas ends up with a three-pointer from the corner. BULLSEYE! Razorbacks lead 66-58 with 2:08 left.

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  40. This isn't Timme's fault -- he's got 23 points and 7 rebounds. And it's not Holmgren's fault -- he had 11 points and 14 rebounds. But the rest of the Zags have been ice cold.

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  41. Timme scores again. 66-60. And this time Notae throws it away. Gonzaga has a runout but Arkansas commits a foul to stop the layup. The Zags want an intentional foul. Doug Shows goes to the monitor. 1:27 left.

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  42. No intentional foul. Two free throws for Andrews Nembhard, who is 1-9 from the field in this game. He makes both of them. Arkansas leads 66-62 with 1:27 left.

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  43. Notae runs off a bunch of clock and throws a pass to Howard who is fouled. Notae runs off more clock and shoots a runner in the lane that misses. After a wild scramble, the ball goes to Notae who is fouled again. Finally, with 45 seconds left, Gonzaga commits another foul to stop the clock and send Howard to the line.

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  44. Howard misses the front end of the one-and-one. Gonzaga misses, but the ball goes out of bounds to the Zags. Arkansas leads 66-62 with 29 seconds left. Gonzaga ball.

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  45. With 2:40 left, Villanova leads 54-50.

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  46. Another long review by Doug Shows to determine who gets the ball. It's Gonzaga, as I said.

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    1. The announcers typically want to talk about how great it is that the officials are going to such pains to "get it right." It most often just looks like they are layering in some fluff for delayed decision making to me.

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    2. No one loves anything as much as Doug Shows loves going to the monitor.

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  47. Zags work the ball into Timme, well-defended by Williams. He makes a great move to get to the rim -- but misses! Williams gets the ball and is fouled.

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  48. Williams makes two free throws. Arkansas leads 68-62. But then Nembhard hits a running three pointer! Arkansas leads 68-65 with 16.5 seconds left.

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  49. Now Chris Lykes is fouled for Arkansas. He makes both FT's, and Arkansas leads 70-65 with 15.8 seconds left.

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  50. Nembhard does that play where you dribble through the defense for a quick layup. And the Razorbacks let him go. But Nembhard never sees Audiese Toney behind him. And when Nembhard lays up the ball, Toney comes flying in for the block. Arkansas recovers, and the Zags are going to be eliminated.

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  51. By my logic, this means that Duke will win the National Championship. But let's be honest -- that was going to happen anyway.

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  52. When I was a kid, they used to say that guards won titles. And when they said that, they were thinking of games like this one. Arkansas could get the ball to do what it wanted, and Gonzaga could not. Notae finishes with 21 points. Williams has 15 points and 12 rebounds. Final score: Arkansas 74, Gonzaga 68.

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  53. For the record, UK gave Arkansas a much better game.

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  54. Villanova, who is probably the only team left on the board that could beat Duke, beats Michigan 63-55.

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  55. Remember that no team from the ACC or the Big East has lost in the final to a team not from the ACC or the Big East since 1996, when UK beat Syracuse.

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  56. Now, if either Houston or Texas Tech win tonight, the Region 13 champion will advance to the quarter-finals over Gonzaga in the NCAA Tourney by Region. If both Houston and Texas Tech lose, then Gonzaga will advance due to its higher Ken Pom rating.

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  57. Also, Michigan's loss means that Purdue wins the Tenth Region.

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  58. Houston takes an early 7-3 lead over Arizona with 15:51 left in the first half.

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  59. Houston leads 14-7 with just over 11 minutes left in the first half.

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  60. Houston leads 23-17 with 7:22 left in the first half.

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  61. Another grinder here. Houston leads 29-22 with 3:20 left in the first half. Arizona is 3-10 from 3-point range and only 3-11 from 2-point range.

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  62. It occurs to me that these days, many teams play like Pitino's team at U of L that won it all in 2013: extremely physical defense, and an offense that consists mostly of running the clock and going for offensive rebounds.

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  63. UK beat that team in 2012 and 2014. But it's a very hard system to beat if you don't make three-point shots.

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  64. This explains, I think, why Calipari spends so much time trying to teach UK's guys to go to the rim, fight for 50-50 balls, and draw fouls. If you don't attack the rim, this Detroit Pistons-style system will eat you up.

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  65. What is so frustrating about the St. Peter's game is that the Cats did pretty much what they were supposed to do. They only took 15 three-pointers and took 46 two-pointers. They kept going to Tshiebwe, who had 30 points and 16 rebounds. They out-rebounded St. Peter's 36-35. They had 35 FT's, while St. Peter's had only 21.

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  66. Under these circumstances, the Cats should be expected to win. But UK went 23-35 from the line, while St. Peter's went 18-21. So even though UK had 14 more FT's, they only got three more points. And then UK went 4-15 from three point range, while St. Peter's went 9-17. That's a 15-point difference. And that's what cost UK the game.

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  67. I cannot emphasize how rare it is for a college team to make almost 53 percent of its three-point shots -- especially when it's playing away from home in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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  68. Against Murray, St. Peter's went only 3-13 from three-point range. If they had shot like that against UK, the Cats would have won.

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  69. But that's why it's the greatest tournament in the world. It's not enough to be the better team; you have to perform well on the day.

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  70. At the half, Houston leads 34-28. Arizona is now 4-11 from 3-point range, and 3-14 from 2-point range.

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  71. I have no idea why Rex Chapman is part of the TBS halftime show. Does he do any broadcasting during the season?

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  72. Arizona gets off to a good start in the second half. Houston leads 37-35 with 15:55 left.

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  73. Houston leads 45-40 with 11:44 left.

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  74. It's getting dangerous for Arizona now. Houston leads 61-49 with 7:10 left.

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  75. Arizona cannot figure out Houston's defense. Arizona is 6-15 from 3, which is pretty good. The Wildcats are also 16-21 from the line. (Houston only has 17 FT's.) But Arizona is 8-26 from 2-point range, which is incredibly bad. They also have 12 turnovers. So they are losing 61-50 with 6:18 left.

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  76. Once Arizona loses, the number 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8 teams from the AP poll will all be out. Duke just has to worry about UNC, and then either Kansas or Villanova.

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  77. To be honest, Duke doesn't have to worry about Kansas. The only teams that can touch them are UNC and Villanova.

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  78. So that will be six titles for Coach K. But honestly, we're lucky he didn't end up with about five more.

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  79. Duke rolls over Texas Tech, 78-73. There were moments on Twitter where some folks seemed to think this game was in doubt. But apparently those people have never watched college basketball.

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  80. By my count, Duke could have won in 1986, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2002, and 2004. Every one of those losses felt like a miracle at the time.

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  81. People think he's great now. And he is. But in the 1980's and 1990's, he was terrifying.

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  82. Since 2004, he's been to the Final Four twice. Of course, he won the title both times. But still, that's only two Final Fours in almost 20 years.

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  83. Between 1986 and 2001 -- a total of 16 seasons -- he went to the Final Four NINE times. He missed in 1995 because he was sick for most of the season. He missed in 1996 because he was rebuilding from 1995. He missed in 1993 because Jason Kidd played out of his mind. In the other 13 seasons, he only missed four times.

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  84. In 1987, he lost 88-82 to Indiana in the Sweet 16. Indiana then won the National Championship.

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  85. In 1997, he had a number two seed but was upset by Providence in the second round, 98-87. Providence went to the elite eight before losing in overtime to Arizona, who won the National Championship.

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  86. In 1998, he had a huge lead in the Elite Eight against UK, who came back and beat him 86-84 in one of the greatest games ever played. UK then won the National Championship.

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  87. And in 2000, he had a number 1 seed but was upset by Florida 87-78 in the Sweet 16. Florida then went all the way to the finals, and their coach won the NCAA in 2006 and 2007.

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  88. That's it. One sickness. One rebuild. One Jason Kidd. One Billy Donovan. Two teams that won the National Championship. And one upset by Providence. The other nine years, he went to the Final Four. It was the most helpless feeling in the world. If they put you in his bracket, you were done.

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  89. Houston rolls over Arizona with surprising ease, 72 to 60, as the Wildcats' offense just collapsed. Houston wins the 13th Region.

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