April 06, 2010
The most thrilling NCAA tournament of all time ended fittingly on Monday night with one of the most exciting finishes in championship game history. Duke won its fourth national title in Indianapolis after a half-court shot by Butler's Gordon Hayward narrowly missed at the buzzer, preserving a 61-59 Blue Devils victory.
For Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, the win solidifies his status as the greatest coach in college basketball history. John Wooden has more, but he did it in a different era. And he always won when his team was the favorite. This season, Duke was anything but that. Before the tournament it was all "Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse." Duke was the forgotten No. 1 seed, one that might benefit from a so-called "easy draw" but could never cut down the nets. After all, this was a fairly pedestrian team by Duke standards.
In his 30 seasons at the North Carolina university, Krzyzewski has coached far better teams than the one that cut down the nets Monday night. That's not an insult to this team but more of a testament to how great some Duke squads have been since 1980.
The Dagger looked at each of Coach K's 30 Duke teams and ranked them at the top to see how long it would take to get to the 2010 squad. Surprisingly, it took a while:
The best Duke teams under Coach K (year, record, top players, tournament result)
1. 1992 -- 34-2 -- Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill -- won national championship
2. 1999 -- 37-2 -- Elton Brand, Trajan Langdon, Corey Maggette -- lost in NCAA final
3. 1986 -- 37-3 -- Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, Jay Bilas -- lost in NCAA final
4. 2001 -- 35-4 -- Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer -- won national championship
5. 2000 -- 29-5 -- Chris Carrawell, Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer -- lost in Sweet 16
6. 1991 -- 32-7 -- Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Brian Davis -- won national championship
7. 2006 -- 32-4 -- J.J. Redick, Shelden Williams, Josh McRoberts -- lost in Sweet 16
8. 1998 -- 32-4 -- Elton Brand, William Avery, Steve Wojciechowski -- lost in Elite 8
9. 2010 -- 35-5 -- Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith -- won national championship
It's a highly subjective list and on any given day, the 2010 team could hang with most of the squads above it. But there's no doubt that this unit wasn't one of the best to roam the halls of Cameron Indoor Stadium. Thank to its coach, however, the 2010 team will be one of the few to have its name in the rafters.