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DURHAM, N.C. — Sunday's NCAA Tournament selection show left Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in an unfamiliar position — on the outside looking in.
For the first time since 1995 and only the second time in 38 years, the Blue Devils were left out of March Madness.
Krzyzewski said Tuesday he felt "a little bit empty" on his SiriusXM radio show “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K".
"You have to earn your way in,” Krzyzewski said. “We didn’t do enough and then right there at the end, look there is no right time to get the virus.”
Duke (13-11, 9-9) finished the season on a two-game winning streak before a positive COVID-19 test forced the Blue Devils to withdraw from the ACC tournament before the quarterfinal round against Florida State.
They advanced to the quarterfinals behind a first-round rout over Boston College and a 70-56 second-round win over Louisville that Coach K said was "one of our best games of the season.”
Instead of staying in Greensboro, North Carolina, that night before facing Florida State the next day, Duke players returned to Durham and the Washington Duke Inn — where players have been sequestered since Aug. 1 — to quarantine.
“We are in quarantine and going through all the stuff,” Krzyzewski said. “We were not able to play and then, obviously, we were not picked to play.”
The season ended abruptly after the selection committee passed on Duke and the Blue Devils made it known they had no interest in participating in the NIT hosted in Texas, where public mask restrictions were just ended.
“It’s no one’s fault,” he said. “And I’m good. Look, I’ve been the luckiest guy in the world. Are you kidding? Forty-six years at West Point and Duke, 11 years with the U.S. team. We’ve won a lot. Part of appreciating your winning is losing or not making it. Whatever time (it is), toward the end of my career, it makes me appreciate it more.”
It's the second consecutive year the pandemic has ended Duke's season prematurely. The Blue Devils were 25-6 and a NCAA Tournament favorite last year before the men's and women's tournaments were cancelled.
“My heart goes out to my team,” he said. “I’ve had those times. They haven’t. This is two years. Last year, the guys who were on the team, we were 25-6 and would have been a top 4 seed at least and didn’t get a chance to play and now don’t get a chance to play again. I feel bad for them.”
Follow David Thompson on Twitter @daveth89.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: NCAA Tournament: Coach K feels 'little bit empty' as Duke sits out