Mike Krzyzewski expects Zion Williamson back for ACC Tournament; UNC game in doubt

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Coach K is optimistic that Zion Williamson will be back for the ACC Tournament. (Getty)
Coach K is optimistic that Zion Williamson will be back for the ACC Tournament. (Getty)

In a narrow win over Wake Forest Tuesday, Duke got its latest and most potent reminder that it’s not going anywhere this March without Zion Williamson.

The good news from Tuesday’s bad game is that it sounds like Williamson will be back for the ACC Tournament next week.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after the Wake Forest game that Williamson has been doing some “basketball stuff” and should be ready for next week’s ACC Tournament.

Coach K feels good about Zion for ACC Tournament

As for Saturday’s showdown with rival North Carolina? Krzyzewski wasn’t so optimistic.

“I don’t think he’ll be ready for Saturday,” Krzyzewski said. “I have to be careful not to push this. I’d be surprised if he’s not ready by the ACC tournament.”

Duke drastically different without Zion

Without Williamson, Duke has looked little like the juggernaut that started the season, going 3-2 in the games since he sprained his knee when his shoe blew out in the opening minute of a loss to North Carolina.

Duke also lost to Virginia Tech on the road and put up its worst performance of the season at home in barely beating an 11-18 Wake Forest team that was a 26.5-point underdog.

With Williamson, Duke is among the favorites to win the championship in Minneapolis. Though the depth issues exposed in Williamson’s absence may knock them down from their prior status as overwhelming favorites. Scoring options are few and far between beyond the top of Duke’s roster.

Without Williamson, Duke looks like a team that may have trouble getting out of the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend.

No sitting for NBA draft

But barring further setback, that appears an option that Duke and its fans don’t have to worry about.

As is the chatter that suggested Williamson sit out the season regardless of his health to protect his NBA draft status.

That appears to be a concept that saw no serious consideration inside Duke circles.

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