First, North Carolina spoiled Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game.
On Saturday, it spoiled Krzyzewski’s final game ever.
The No. 8 Tar Heels beat the No. 2 Blue Devils 81-77 in a historic Final Four showdown on Saturday. The result sets up a national championship game between UNC and Kansas and puts an end to Mike Krzyzewski’s illustrious career.
Krzyzewski, 75, is the winningest college basketball coach of all time, amassing an impressive 1202-368 record. Additionally, he holds the NCAA Tournament records for games coached with 131 and wins with 101. He has guided Duke to 27 appearances in the Sweet 16, 17 appearances in the Elite Eight and five national championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015).
Saturday’s game was 102 years in the making, and it lived up to the billing. The intrastate rivals had played one another 255 times, but this was their first time facing off in the NCAA Tournament. With a berth in the national championship game up for grabs and the possibility of the matchup being Krzyzewski’s last game on the Duke bench, the stakes were astronomically high.
The game was close from the jump. North Carolina knotted the game at 34-34 in the final minute of the first half, but Jeremy Roach gave Duke the lead entering halftime with a strong and-1:
Duke stretched its lead to seven early in the second half, but Caleb Love answered by leading UNC on a 13-0 run to take the lead.
The two teams went back and forth over the next 10 minutes. With the game tied at 65-65, North Carolina center Armando Bacot went down with an injury. He missed just a minute of game time before reentering the game.
Keels, UNC’s Brady Manek and Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. traded 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the final minutes as Duke held a 74-73 lead with 1:18 left in regulation. The two sides then took trips to the free throw line on the game’s next two possessions. R.J. Davis made two free throws for UNC, while Mark Williams missed two for Duke.
Holding a one-point lead, Love came up with the shot of the night from downtown to put UNC up 78-74.
Love later iced the game with a free throw to give UNC its 81-77 lead and final score. The last free throw gave Love a game-high 28 points.
Next up for North Carolina is a matchup with No. 1 Kansas, which beat No. 2 Villanova in the first Final Four game on Saturday. UNC is chasing its seventh national title, while Kansas is going for its fourth.