Earlier this afternoon the Duke Blue Devils’ hopes of a 20th ACC tournament title ended when they lost to the Virginia Cavaliers 72-63. A combination of fatigue and smothering defense caused the Blue Devils to get off to a very slow start; they only scored 25 points in the first half. Thankfully the Blue Devils were able to find their stride in the second half and make a very competitive game out of it. However, in the end it was unfortunately Virginia who prevailed.
Virginia is a great team who deserved to win but as a Duke basketball fan it was very difficult to watch. Virginia shot 38 total free throws compared to Duke’s 11. Virginia forward Anthony Gill shot 17 free throws by himself meaning he individually shot more free throws than the Blue Devils did collectively as a team.
To me this ridiculous desperately in amount of free throws attempted is very difficult to stomach. There is no denying that Virginia is a very good defensive team but the physical nature in which they play with leads me to believe there were plenty of fouls committed by the Cavaliers that were not called.
There were plenty of occasions when one of Duke’s players would fight through contact to get to the rim where no foul was called when there easily could have been one called. Virginia would also disrupt Duke’s players by subtly hand checking them as well as pushing them to disrupt Duke’s offensive rhythm.
Before the season the NCAA said that they would put an emphasis on eliminating hand checking by calling it very closely, the referees in this game must not have gotten the memo.
Now that my rant is over I must do what all Duke fans must do, move on and look forward towards the NCAA tournament.
This loss almost guarantees that Duke will be a two seed in the NCAA tournament. We all know that seeding is not as important as matchups when it comes to the NCAA tournament. Hopefully Duke does not get matched up with an extremely physical team like Virginia but if they do they will need to find a way to finish through the contact.
In the end a congratulations are in order for the Virginia Cavaliers because like I said they definitely do deserve this championship as well as a one seed in the NCAA tournament.