For the 48th time over 47 years of unparalleled coaching, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski took the slow walk to midcourt and shook the hand of North Carolina's coach who beat him. This was the 258th, most consequential and maybe, just maybe, the very best meeting between these teams, whose arenas are separated by a scant 11 miles down on Tobacco Road. Krzyzewski's own lifetime record against North Carolina fell to 50-48. Losses No. 47 and 48 are ones Carolina fans will treasure forever, reports the AP.
Krzyzewski’s remarkable career came to gut-wrenching close Saturday night after Caleb Love made a key 3-pointer and three late free throws to lift the Tar Heels to their thrill-a-minute 81-77 victory in the national semifinal showdown between archrivals. The eighth-seeded Tar Heels (29-9), of all teams, pinned the 368th and final loss on Krzyzewski, who had announced before the start of the season that 2021-22 would be his last. He finished with 1,202 wins. Krzyzewski's players gave everything all the way through the nip-and-tuck contest—neither team led by more than seven—that concluded with an edge-of-the-seat stretch run that Duke played without a timeout.
When the final buzzer of his career blared, Krzyzewski shook the hand of Carolina's rookie coach, Hubert Davis. Instead of Krzyzewski going for his sixth title, on Monday, Carolina will try to win its seventh. It will be Davis; Love, who led the Tar Heels with 28 points; and RJ Davis, who scored 18, going against Kansas, which beat Villanova 81-65 earlier in the undercard. "Dwelling on the two wins against Duke doesn’t help us against Kansas," said Hubert Davis, who took over for Roy Williams this season and has now brought Carolina to its 12th title game.
Maybe not, but what a game—as good as any these teams have played in an ancient rivalry that has so-often determined conference titles, or, at the very least, bragging rights in a state where basketball is king. Their first-ever meeting in the NCAA Tournament, this one, featured 18 lead changes and 12 ties. It also featured another breakout performance from Love, whose 28 points after an 0-for-4 start were one more than what he put up in the second half of a win last week against UCLA in the Sweet 16. "It means everything to me," Love said of his key 3 with 25 seconds left. (Read even more on the game here.)