Duke defeated Butler University, 61-59, on Monday, April 5, to claim their 4th NCAA championship; the win gave the ACC and the state of North Carolina back to back NCAA championships.
Road to the Final Four
Duke began the tournament with a dominating win against #16 seed Arkansas-Pine Bluff University, 73-44, followed by a win over #9 seed California, 68-53, to earn a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.
Over the past few years the Blue Devils have had problems moving their way into the Elite Eight, but this year the Devils would survive #4 seed Purdue with a thirteen point victory, 70-57, earning a spot into the Elite Eight against Big 12 power house Baylor.
Baylor gave Duke a good fight in the Elite Eight match up, but was no match against Duke’s big three: John Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith. Duke would advance to the Final Four with a 78-71 victory.
Arriving in Indianapolis
Duke arrived in Indianapolis as the only #1 seed left in the tournament. The Blue Devils would be matched up with #2 seed West Virginia, who came off an upset win over heavily favored Kentucky. Although the Mountaineers would be looking for another upset, the Devils stormed over West Virginia, 78-57.
Then t he Devils faced Butler, a Cinderella #5 seed in the National Championship. Butler entered the game riding on a 25 game winning streak. Duke would still be a strong favorite, despite many college basketball fans around the nation who pulled for the underdog, Butler.
Even students at Leesville appreciated the underdog. “I like the underdog story, and Butler winning would be a good finish to a tournament of many upsets,” said Kevin Carney, senior.
With neither team gaining a lead of more than eight points the whole game, this would be one of the closest championship games of all time. After a back and forward matchup Duke found themselves up only one point with only 3.6 seconds left and with Brian Zoubek on the free throw line. Zoubek made the first shot but missed the second, giving Butler time for one final half court shot. Butler’s Gordon Hayward heaved a shot from half court that banged off the rim just missing.
Duke players and fans began celebrating their hard fought and well earned National Championship. Students at the university built a large bonfire and celebrated by the hundreds all night long.
To Tony Woods, senior, the win was more than just a championship. “It was great winning after Carolina and keeping up with the championship race. Also the win makes the future more optimistic for Duke basketball,” said Woods.