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Duke men's basketball's connections to this year's Final Four

Bobby Hurley made three Final Fours during his Duke playing career.
Bobby Hurley made three Final Fours during his Duke playing career.

Although Duke is not in this year’s Final Four, there are many connections between the Blue Devils and the remaining teams in the NCAA tournament. Here is a look at some of those links. 

Florida Atlantic

The ninth-seed Owls are having a remarkable season, boasting a 35-3 record and reaching their first NCAA tournament since the 2001-02 season. As a result, head coach Dusty May, who recently won CBS Sports College Basketball Coach of the Year, signed a long-term extension with the team. Assistant coach Kyle Church has a close Duke connection; he is the son of Blue Devil women’s soccer coach Robbie Church. Kyle Church attended Charlotte and was a walk-on on the basketball team. He started his coaching career at Ole Miss after graduation in 2010 as part of the support staff, and worked his way up the ranks. Prior to joining the Owls, Church was a part of the Florida program during the Gators’ 2017 Elite Eight run. He followed May to the Florida Atlantic coaching staff in 2018, and the Owls have had winning seasons through their tenure, despite having seven losing seasons in a row prior to May and Church’s arrival. Florida Atlantic will look to defeat No. 5-seed San Diego State for its first-ever NCAA finals appearance. 

UConn

On the other side of the bracket, Duke has a close family tie to No. 4-seed UConn head coach Dan Hurley. His brother, Bobby Hurley, was a Blue Devil standout from 1989-1993. Hurley won back-to-back national championships and reached the Final Four three times. He was a first-team All-American and still holds the all-time NCAA assist record. Interestingly, the Hurley brothers squared off in the NCAA tournament when Duke played Dan Hurley’s alma mater Seton Hall in the 1992 Elite Eight. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, Bobby Hurley got the best of his younger brother and Duke emerged victorious 81-69 en route to a national championship. Both are now in the coaching ranks, and after being Dan Hurley’s assistant at both Wagner and Rhode Island, Bobby Hurley is currently the head coach at Arizona State. The farthest that Dan Hurley has ever reached as a coach in the NCAA tournament was the second round during his time at Rhode Island, so this Final Four appearance is a new experience for the fifth-year Huskie head coach. 

Miami

Although there are no coaching connections between Duke and Miami, the Blue Devils are certainly familiar with this Hurricanes roster. The two teams played three times this season, the most recent a 85-78 Duke victory in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. 

“Miami has been a really good team, they have a high powered offense and they are experienced,” said head coach Jon Scheyer following the win. 

This statement has rung true. The fifth-seed Hurricanes have a duo of experienced guards, Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller, who have led them to their second-straight deep run in the NCAA tournament. In addition, this high-powered offense has been the driving force behind Miami’s recent success, as the team has scored more than 80 points in its past three games. The last remaining ACC team will face off against UConn in hopes of making its first-ever NCAA tournament final. 


Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity first-year and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

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