Best wins bracket: Non-UNC regular season region

Duke has had plenty of memorable regular season wins outside of the Tobacco Road rivalry.
Duke has had plenty of memorable regular season wins outside of the Tobacco Road rivalry.

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.

Duke's best wins during the Coach K era aren't just limited to its matchups with North Carolina and the postseason. The Blue Devils have had some memorable regular season victories against a myriad of opponents, both inside and outside of conference play. 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 98, Maryland 96 (OT): Jan. 27, 2001 (Cole Fieldhouse)

This was one of the iconic Duke-Maryland rivalry games, back when the East Coast powerhouse was still a member of the ACC. No. 2 Duke was trailing by 10 points at the one-minute mark, and if win probability was a thing back then, the Blue Devils’ chances would be infinitely close to zero. But with a crossover move that cleared the lane to the hoop and then back-to-back pull up triples, Jason Williams miraculously pulled Duke back within two points in less than 20 seconds. In overtime, Shane Battier scored the last six points for the Blue Devils and swatted No. 10 Maryland’s final attempt to tie the game.

No. 2 seed: Duke 69, Virginia 63: Jan. 31, 2015 (John Paul Jones Arena)

The second-ranked Cavaliers entered the game an undefeated 19-0 and held a 58-50 lead against the fourth-ranked Blue Devils with under five minutes to play. But Duke hit five 3-pointers over those final five minutes, including three triples from senior captain Quinn Cook. Freshman Tyus Jones iced it with a cold-blooded trey to extend Duke’s lead to six with 10 seconds remaining.

No. 3 seed: Duke 71, Louisville 69: Feb. 12, 2019 (KFC Yum! Center)

With just over nine minutes remaining on the clock, Duke trailed by 23, an immensely-humiliating defeat about to go on the record of probably the most talented Blue Devil team of all time. That didn’t happen. Instead, spurred by the smothering backcourt defense of Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire as well as Cam Reddish’s 16 points over that final 9:07 stretch, Duke proved its worth and turned a painful upset into one of the program’s most iconic comebacks.

No. 4 seed: Duke 88, Michigan 85 (OT): Dec. 14, 1991 (Crisler Arena)

In the first matchup between Michigan’s Fab Five and the recently-crowned national champion Blue Devils, emotions flared and produced one of the most prolific regular season matchups in Duke history. Bobby Hurley paced Duke with 26 points, hitting two critical free throws with 14 seconds left in overtime to put the Blue Devils up by three. After a forced 3-pointer by Michigan’s Rob Pelinka, Duke eked out a victory en route to its second national championship.

No. 5 seed: Duke 66, Syracuse 60: Feb. 22, 2014 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)

Less than a month earlier, the Orange defeated the Blue Devils 91-89 in an overtime thriller at the Carrier Dome. Duke would make sure to return the favor back on its own home floor. The contest came down to the final minute, with the fifth-ranked Blue Devils leading No. 1 Syracuse 60-58. The Orange’s C.J. Fair hit the game-tying layup over Rodney Hood with 10 seconds left but was promptly called for the charge, clinching the win for Duke and sending Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim packing.

No. 6 seed: Duke 75, Notre Dame 74: Feb. 16, 1986 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)

Despite leading for most of the game, Duke found itself clinging to a one-point lead with 29 seconds on the clock. Johnny Dawkins made an errant inbound pass, ultimately leading to the Fighting Irish getting the final shot. Point guard David Rivers rose up for the midrange jumper in hopes of completing the Notre Dame comeback, but Dawkins stuffed him as the clock expired. The Blue Devils would later finish with an undefeated home record on the season.

No. 7 seed: Duke 77, Virginia Tech 75: Dec. 4, 2005 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)

No. 1 Duke was coming off two consecutive ranked victories, but suddenly found itself in a back-and-forth affair with unranked Virginia Tech. A Coleman Collins tip-in put the Hokes up one with just under two seconds left, with the game announcers foreshadowing what was to come by saying, “Duke has shown you that you can do an awful lot in two seconds, although I don’t see Christian Laettner and Grant Hill out there.” Right on cue, Josh McRoberts fired a bullet pass to Sean Dockery, who then took a dribble and drained the half court game-winner.

No. 8 seed: Duke 63, Virginia 62: Feb. 13, 2016 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)

Entering the game, Virginia hadn’t won in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995. But this time, the seventh-ranked Cavaliers were matching up against arguably the weakest Duke team in recent memory. It didn’t matter. The game remained close, with neither squad leading by more than three over the final eight minutes, before Grayson Allen shocked the ‘Hoos with a desperation bank shot at the buzzer.

Regional finals

No. 1: Duke at Maryland 2001

No. 3: Duke at Louisville 2019

Second-round matchups

No. 1: Duke at Maryland 2001

No. 4: Duke at Michigan 1991

No. 2: Duke at Virginia 2015

No. 3: Duke at Louisville 2019

First-round matchups

No. 1: Duke at Maryland 2001

No. 8: Duke vs. Virginia 2016

No. 2: Duke at Virginia 2015

No. 7: Duke vs. Virginia Tech 2005

No. 3: Duke at Louisville 2019

No. 6: Duke vs. Notre Dame 1986

No. 4: Duke at Michigan 1991

No. 5: Duke vs. Syracuse 2014

Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.


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