Duke pulls out of ACC Tournament, NCAA tourney streak ends

GREENSBORO, NC (AP) – Duke arrived at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in hopes of an unprecedented run to extend his long streak of NCAA tournaments.

Instead, the Blue Devils had to abruptly withdraw from the tournament and end the season due to a positive COVID-19 test and the resulting quarantine and contact tracing.

The ACC announced that the Blue Devils’ quarterfinal game against Florida State # 15 on Thursday night was canceled. And Athletics Director Kevin White said Duke’s season was over, ending the Blue Devils’ streak of 24 consecutive NCAA appearances that began in 1996.

In a statement, White said the positive test for someone within the program came after beating Louisville on Wednesday, the Blue Devils’ second win in as many days in Greensboro. Previously, there had been no positive tests for a player or coach for the whole season, he said.

“Since the pandemic started in March last year, we’ve listened to our medical experts and we’ve always put safety first in all competitive decisions,” said White. “This ends our 2020-21 season. We wish every team still playing college basketball good health and all the best for the next few weeks. “

The Blue Devils (13-11, 9-9 ACC) couldn’t live up to their high standards, but coach Mike Krzyzewski said he loved this young team and it was an honor to coach them.

“We haven’t asked more from any team in our history and they deserve tremendous credit for being as good at everything as the outstanding young men they are,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “I feel deeply for our players who have done an amazing job all season taking care of each other and the team.

“I’m very proud of your collective attitudes and efforts that couldn’t be stronger.”

After Duke retired, the Seminoles reached the semifinals of the ACC tournament to play against the winner of North Carolina-Virginia Tech.

“I just think we tried all year to prepare for the unexpected,” said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton. “It’s unfortunate that we can’t play this game today. But we have to deal with it mature and just be glad that nobody is at risk. “

In addition, Louisville released a statement Thursday that the post-Duke game tests were negative and no contact tracing concerns were expected.

“Our group is being tested daily and is on track to take the required consecutive days of negative tests to enter the NCAA tournament,” the school said.

After Duke’s season, this marks the first time since 1976 that both the Blue Devils and another basketball blueblood – Kentucky – will not be in the NCAAs. The Wildcats lost their Southeastern Conference Tournament prelude to the state of Mississippi on Thursday, ensuring the program has lost for the first time since 1988/89.

Duke hadn’t missed the NCAA tournament since the 1994/95 season when Krzyzewski resigned from coaching after complications from back surgery. Assistant Pete Gaudet took over with that team 13-18 a year after Duke played in the NCAA title game.

Previously, Krzyzewski had only missed the Duke tournament in his first three seasons when he played a combined 38-47 game and faced growing pressure to change the situation than the neighbors of Triangle, North Carolina (1982) and North Carolina State (1983), both won NCAA championships.

The first tournament offer came in 1984, and Duke won 37 games when he reached an NCAA final two years later. This was the first in a remarkable run of seven Final Fours in nine years that included championships in 1991 and 1992. The Krzyzewski teams won three more titles in 2001, 2010 and 2015.

This year opened with some of the same expectations, though a young roster lacks the same NBA-ready talent of recent years with names like Zion Williamson and Jayson Tatum.

The Blue Devils started the year in 9th place on the AP Top 25, but were not ranked in mid-January for the first time in almost five years. In a Cameron indoor stadium without a fan, they lacked the typically rough home advantage, and in February top newcomer Jalen Johnson left the team to prepare for the NBA draft.

After a one-sided loss to rivals North Carolina, the Blue Devils knew they likely had to win the ACC tournament to extend the NCAA streak, even though neither team had won five games in five days. They opened with a one-sided win over Boston College and defeated Louisville in the quarterfinals on Wednesday after losing both regular season meetings.

Krzyzewski said the whole time he was more focused on developing a young group than on past successes.

“It will pay off at some point if you stick with it,” said Krzyzewski after losing to Notre Dame in February. “It was in ’82 and ’83, in ’95 -96 and in 2006. There were times in our program when you learned to appreciate the profit made at such a high level , and how hard it is to lose.

“And we as a program have to keep learning and appreciating what it takes to win. You don’t do this by not working hard or trying to get better. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. “

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