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Best wins bracket: 21st century postseason region

Duke has captured three national championships since the turn of the century.
Duke has captured three national championships since the turn of the century.

Editor's note: This is part of The Chronicle's bracket for Duke men's basketball's best wins of the Coach K era. If you want an overview of the tournament or information on the other regions within the bracket click here.

What makes Coach K arguably the greatest coach of all time isn't just the wins—it's the longevity. In the 20 postseasons within the 2000s so far, Krzyzewski has led Duke to 11 conference tournament championships and three NCAA championships, with countless great wins sprinkled between all those banners. Presented below is the bracket, descriptions and matchups of the eight Blue Devil wins that make up this region of our best wins tournament.



No. 1 seed: Duke 61, Butler 59: April 5, 2010 (Lucas Oil Stadium)

In an instant classic, top-seeded Duke matched up against Gordon Hayward and fifth-seeded Butler. The game was close the entire way, with neither squad ever holding a lead larger than six. But in the end, it was the Blue Devils who came out on top for the program’s fourth national championship, with Hayward missing a contested jumper at the five-second mark before his infamously-close half court heave at the buzzer.

No. 2 seed: Duke 68, Wisconsin 63: April 6, 2015 (Lucas Oil Stadium)

In what was supposed to be a battle between two National Player of the Year candidate big men in Jahlil Okafor and Frank Kaminsky, it was actually two freshman guards who made the difference for Duke: Grayson Allen and Tyus Jones. Allen’s acrobatic layups and defensive fire fueled the Blue Devils throughout the contest, while Jones’ triple with 90 seconds left iced Duke’s most recent national title.

No. 3 seed: Duke 95, Maryland 84: March 31, 2001 (Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome)

The Blue Devils surmounted an early 22-point deficit in the first half but would climb all the way back to defeat the Terrapins in what would be the final installment of a four-game season series between the two teams. The stage for this one? The Final Four. Top-seeded Duke secured its first lead of the game with just under seven minutes remaining in the second half, with the collective effort of Shane Battier, Jason Williams and Carlos Boozer eventually putting the game out of reach for good.

No. 4 seed: Duke 84, Maryland 82: March 10, 2001 (Georgia Dome)

In a back-and-forth ACC tournament semi-final that saw 18 lead changes, the Blue Devils were led to victory by Battier, who scored 20 points despite a 7-of-20 mark from the floor. Duke jumped out to a 14-point lead in the second half but saw itself tied with Maryland with just under 10 seconds remaining in regulation. The Blue Devils ultimately needed a game-winning tip-in by Nate James to seal the victory and advance to the ACC championship. 

No. 5 seed: Duke 78, Baylor 71: March 28, 2010 (Reliant Stadium)

In a back-and-forth Elite Eight classic, Duke clawed its way to the Final Four for the first time since 2004, the longest drought since Coach K made his first Final Four appearance in 1986. Apart from the national championship game, this was the closest the Blue Devils came to packing up and returning to Durham in 2010, with Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer combined for 49 points to push the Blue Devils ahead.

No. 6 seed: Duke 74, North Carolina 73: March 15, 2019 (Spectrum Center)

In a thrilling ACC tournament semi-final, the third-seeded Blue Devils just barely edged past the two-seeded Tar Heels. Freshmen R.J. Barrett and Tre Jones contributed greatly to the Duke effort, playing all 40 minutes. But it was Zion Williamson who stole the show in his only Duke vs. North Carolina matchup, scoring a game-high 31 points, including the game-clinching putback on his own missed layup with less than a minute remaining.

No. 7 seed: Duke 82, Arizona 72: April 2, 2001 (Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome)

On a Duke squad that included two different National Players of the Year in Jason Williams and Battier, it was Mike Dunleavy who proved to be the hero in Coach K’s fourth national championship win. The sharpshooting forward led the Blue Devils with 21 points, including three consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half. Battier added perhaps the most impressive block in Blue Devil history during that same memorable sequence as Duke captured its fourth national title.

No. 8 seed: Duke 77, Central Florida 76: March 24, 2019 (The Colonial Life Arena)

Central Florida brought out the big guns in the second round of the NCAA tournament with Tacko Fall, the colossal 7-foot-5 center from Senegal whose size had garnered fame during the tournament. After the Blue Devils blew an eight-point halftime lead, it came down to a game-winning layup by R.J. Barrett off  a Zion Williamson missed free throw. Seconds later, the Knights’ spirits were crushed with a missed wide open putback, allowing Duke to slip away with the victory.

Regional finals

No. 1: Duke vs. Butler 2010

No. 2: Duke vs. Wisconsin 2015

Second-round matchups

No. 1: Duke vs. Butler 2010

No. 4: Duke vs. Maryland 2001 (ACC tournament)

No. 2: Duke vs. Wisconsin 2015

No. 3: Duke vs. Maryland 2001

First-round matchups

No. 1: Duke vs. Butler 2010

No. 8: Duke vs. Central Florida 2019

No. 2: Duke vs. Wisconsin 2015

No. 7: Duke vs. Arizona 2001

No. 3: Duke vs. Maryland 2001

No. 6: Duke vs. UNC 2019 (ACC tournament)

No. 4: Duke vs. Maryland 2001 (ACC tournament)

No. 5: Duke vs. Baylor 2010


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