it would certainly be a very poetic moment if Mike Krzyzewski, who has been the head coach at Duke since 1980, could win a sixth national title in the last game before his retirement. And certainly the media, which seems to have always favored Duke, would eat it up.
So, how could they do it, and more to the point, WHY can they do it? That's something we are going to explore, but first, here are Final Four odds on the national semifinal game, which they have to win to get to the finals, obviously. This is how it is posted at BetOnline:
Duke Blue Devils -4 (-115)
North Carolina Tar Heels +4 (-105)
Over 153.5 Points -110
Under 153.5 Points -110
By the way, Duke came into the final four as a +115 favorite to win it all, at the home of Odds Boosters, which gives you explosive payouts on pre-selected parlays on a daily basis.
So here are the reasons why do could when it all:
WELL, IT'S THE LAST STOP ON THE FAREWELL TOUR
There has to be some powerful motivation on the part of Duke and its players to win that final game for Coach K. And that is obviously a natural driver. The very fact that Krzyzewski is retiring, and that Duke is such a media darling, might also mean that this team will get the benefit of the calls from the officials. It's not necessarily something we like to say, but those things have a way of happening.
THEY WANT TO PAY BACK NORTH CAROLINA FOR AN EARLIER LOSS
North Carolina pummelled Duke on March 5th, winning 94-81 and what was Coach K's final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. In that game, North Carolina had four players who scored at least 20 points, and they got 22 chances at the line, which is very unusual (as you see below). It was a bitter pill for everyone associated with the program to swallow, but Krzyzewski got up at the end of it and said " the season isn't over."
DUKE CAN PREVENT TEAMS FROM SCORING EASY BASKETS
When they put out a line up with 7-foot center Mark Williams and 6-10 Paolo Banchero, who was arguably the top recruit in the country this season, it's no easy task getting inside and scoring. That will go for either North Carolina or Kansas, which has its own big man, David McCormack, who has been very effective. And Villanova doesn't have a lot of size to offer. So in other words, Duke will probably force teams to shoot from long-range, perhaps a little more then has been usual against them.
THIS TEAM DOES NOT SEND OPPONENTS TO THE LINE VERY OFTEN
There are only two teams in the nation for which the opponents have scored a lower percentage of their overall point total at the free throw line. Only 11.9% their foes score their points from the charity stripe. So getting in foul trouble is probably not a big issue.
THEY ARE VERY GOOD AT TAKING CARE OF THE BALL
Duke is 24th among 358 Division 1 teams in offensive turnover percentage, at 15.3%. When you couple this with their two-point shooting percentage of 56.3%, this prevents opponents from being able to put together a long run against them.
So maybe there's enough evidence there to convince you that Coach K can retire a winner.
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