Opinion

Nothing finer than Duke and Carolina at tourney time

Lewis Bowling
Lewis Bowling

Mike Krzyzewski has a last name that I have to spell check every time I write about him. And I have written about this great coach many times for The Herald-Sun and Go Duke Magazine. So I just prefer going with Coach K instead of Mike Krzyzewski, and yes, I just now looked at the spelling above to make sure I got it right.

But in my opinion, for what it’s worth, Coach K is the greatest of all time, the GOAT. Yes, better than John Wooden of UCLA, who won 10 national titles, but that was a different era.

It is more difficult today to win national championships, with more teams capable of winning it all. Coach K has five national titles (with a sixth coming this year, I do believe) and 12 Final Fours, along with the most wins in college basketball history with 1,096 at the time of this writing.

This is no knock on Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood, because he was obviously a great coach. After all, being the second best to ever coach college basketball is quite an honor, but Coach K deserves the number one position. The GOAT resides right here in Durham.

Even being the GOAT, since 2003, Coach K has not even been the best coach in the Triangle. That honor belongs to Roy Williams. Williams left Kansas in 2003 to come home and become UNC’s coach. The numbers speak for themselves. Williams has three national titles since 2003, having won it all in 2005, 2009, and 2017. Coach K, since 2003, has won twice, in 2010 and 2015.

Williams has taken UNC to five Final Fours since his arrival in Chapel Hill, while Duke has been to three in that span. UNC, since 2003, has won three ACC Tournaments to Duke’s six, so Coach K has the edge there, but UNC has won eight ACC regular season championships since Williams' arrival to three ACC regular season titles for Duke.

At both UNC and Duke, the goal is winning championships, ACC regular season, ACC Tournaments, playing in Final Fours, and winning national titles. Using those barometers, Roy Williams, since coming to UNC as the head man, has been the best coach not only around these parts, but the very best in all of college basketball.

Not only has Roy Williams been better than Coach K since 2003, he has done it with less talent to work with, especially these last years, where Duke has repeatedly beat out UNC for top recruits, due in large degree to the NCAA investigation of UNC. UNC basketball was not found guilty in the academic fraud case of keeping athletes eligible, but the investigation and thought that possibly UNC would receive sanctions kept some of the best high school players in the country from committing to UNC.

Think about this season’s lineups. Other than Joel Berry, who from the Tar Heels would start for Duke? No one, although a case could be made for Luke Maye. My point here is that for the last 10 years or so, Duke has had quite a bit more talent on its roster compared to UNC.

But here is what I think we should all do as March Madness 2018 is here. We are very fortunate to have the two most successful college basketball programs — and the two best coaches to ever coach college basketball — right here in our area. We should celebrate that fact. Maybe a little less hate between UNC and Duke fans, and a little more admiration for the other hue of blue.

After all, there is no doubt that these two basketball programs make each other better, with both trying to compete with the other. Both of these programs give us outstanding basketball played by great young men. We really are so very lucky.

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