Duke coach Mike Krzywski was asked Tuesday if he was surprised that the Blue Devils had never played the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA Championships.
“Probably, but I haven’t thought of that,” Krzyzewski said. “I didn’t look at us against Carolina. I looked at…we’re playing the Final Four, so I didn’t pay any attention to the history of that.”
On Saturday night, the two storied programs will play each other on Final Four.
Specifically, Krzyzewski paid tribute to Villanova’s head coach Jay Wright, who had eight straight NCAA games not counting the canceled 2020 tournament. Vilanova won the national titles in 2016 and 2018.
“The team and program that Jay has had at Villanova – in the last five games [to] Six years – he has been the leader, so to speak, in achievement, ”said Krzyzewski.
The Blue Devils trained Tuesday in Durham before loading the team’s buses to Raleigh-Durham International Airport for New Orleans.
Fans, cheerleaders and Duke’s mascot lined up at Morton Plaza next to Krzyzewskiville as the team loaded the bus. Krzyzewski drew up the cheers.
Coach K is in his 42nd and final year at Duke while Hubert Davis of North Carolina is in his first season as Tar Heels coach.
“What Hubert did in his first year to get his team to do it was amazing,” Krzyszewski said.
Saturday’s game will be Duke’s third time with UNC this season. On March 5, he upset the North Carolina Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Krzyzewski’s last home game. On February 5, Duke defeated North Carolina 87-67 at Chapel Hill.
“I really don’t get much from those matches,” Krzyzewski said. “I draw more than … against other teams because they are playing really well.”
Krzyzewski said Duke should focus on winning the match and, most importantly, the national championship. He advises his team to “ignore the hype”.
“Everyone is in good health,” said Coach K. “[I’m] He’s obviously really excited.”
Krzyzewski has expressed his faith in the direction of the program as assistant coach Jon Scheyer takes over next season as head coach.
“It worked,” Krzyzewski said. “We have great continuity in our program with John taking charge, what happened in hiring, not just this year for next season, but for next year.
“We had great continuity, and in order to do that, I stayed on the job and still wanted to train. So this wasn’t about getting recognition. Although that’s what you get. It’s what you get if you live in this neighborhood” .
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