A large number of former Duke players were in attendance to give support to Coach K, who announced his retirement before the season. The stage was set for the perfect sendoff as the heavily favored Blue Devils faced their rival, North Carolina, at home. But there wasn't a storybook ending. The unranked Tar Heels shocked the world with a 94-81 upset.
Until Saturday, Duke (26-5) had lost only three Atlantic Coast Conference games – by a total of four points – all season.
Speaking to fans after the game, Krzyzewski expressed his disappointment at the team's performance.
“I’m sorry about this afternoon. ... That was unacceptable,” Krzyzewski said.
Duke Blue Devils prepare for one final NCAA Tournament run for Mike Krzyzewski
Although it wasn't the perfect end to the season for coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke Blue Devils will now shift their attention to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. After that, the team will try to state one final run for Coach K in the NCAA tournament.
Krzyzewski, a former Bobby Knight assistant, has won five national titles and made 12 Final Four appearances at Duke.
The blowout loss to North Carolina sent shockwaves throughout the college basketball world, but it could prove to be the extra boost Duke needs. The Blue Devils had won seven games in a row and 12 of 13 before the debacle. Their previous four losses, combined, were by a total of nine points.
Duke began the season ranked ninth and was ranked fourth heading into the UNC game Saturday. The Blue Devils fell to seventh in the Associated Press poll released Monday.
Duke's roster has one of the most talented assortment of players in the country. Duke has the potential to have as many as five players selected in the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.
Behind freshmen Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin, the Blue Devils will have a great opportunity to make a deep run in March. They have their eyes set on a national championship. It might have been a disappointing final home game for Coach K, but there's still a chance he could get his storybook ending.