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  1. #1

    Who Doesn't Love Lists? Coach K's Top Wins and Toughest Losses at Duke

    In honor of his tying Dean, I put together a list of what I would rank as Coach K's top wins at Duke, based on my personal views that placed most significance on:
    (i) the importance of the game,
    (ii) the game's importance to Coach K's career,
    (iii) the quality of the opposition, and
    (iv) the quality of Duke's performance.

    Happily, and as a sign of how blessed Duke fans have been over the past 30 years, I was able to recall at least 100 memorable Duke wins under Coach K.

    Take your best shot.

    Coach K's Top 100 Wins at Duke:

    (1) UNLV, 1991 NCAA Final Four (79-77)
    (2) Kansas, 1991 National Championship (72-65)
    (3) Kentucky, 1992 NCAA East Regional (104-103) (ot)
    (4) Michigan, 1992 National Championship (71-51)
    (5) Arizona, 2001 National Championship (82-72)
    (6) Butler 2010 National Championship (61-59)
    (7) Georgetown, 1989 NCAA East Regional (85-77)
    (8) Maryland, 2001 NCAA Final Four (95-84)
    (9) U.Conn, 1990 NCAA East Regional (79-78) (ot)
    (10) Navy, 1986 NCAA East Regional (71-50)

    (11) North Carolina, 1984 ACC Tournament Semis (77-75)
    (12) Purdue, 1994 NCAA Southeast Regional (69-60)
    (13) Kansas, 1986 NCAA Final Four (71-67)
    (14) @ North Carolina, 2001 (95-81)
    (15) North Carolina, 1998 (77-75)
    (16) Temple, 1988 NCAA East Regional (63-53)
    (17) Indiana, 1992 NCAA Final Four (81-78)
    (18) North Carolina, 1986 (82-74)
    (19) North Carolina, 1988 ACC Tournament Final (65-61)
    (20) Arkansas, 1990 NCAA Final Four (97-83)
    (21) North Carolina, 2001 ACC Tournament Final (79-53)
    (22) Baylor, 2010 NCAA South Regional (78-71)
    (23) Michigan, 1992-1993 (79-68)
    (24) Georgia Tech, 1986 ACC Tournament Final (68-67) (ot)
    (25) North Carolina, 1997 (80-73)

    (26) @ Maryland, 2001 (98-96) (ot)
    (27) @ LSU, 1992 (77-67)
    (28) @ North Carolina, 1985 (93-77)
    (29) @ Wake Forest, 1997 (73-68)
    (30) West Virginia, 2010 NCAA Final Four (78-57)
    (31) LSU, 1991 (88-70)
    (32) North Carolina, 1981 (61-60)
    (33) North Carolina, 1992 ACC Tournament Final (94-74)
    (34) Maryland, 2001 ACC Tournament Semis (84-82)
    (35) @ North Carolina, 2008 (89-78)
    (36) @ North Carolina, 1989 (88-86)
    (37) Arizona, 1990 (78-76)
    (38) @ Michigan, 1991-1992 (88-85) (ot)
    (39) @ North Carolina, 2000 (90-86) (ot)
    (40) North Carolina, 1988 (96-81)
    (41) Arizona, 1997-1998 Maui final (95-87)
    (42) @ North Carolina, 1991 (83-77)
    (43) North Carolina, 1993 (81-67)
    (44) @ Kansas, 1988 (74-70)
    (45) St. Johnís, 1991-1992 @ Greensboro (91-81)
    (46) @ Oklahoma, 1990-1991 (90-85)
    (47) North Carolina, 1991 (74-61)
    (48) @ Wake Forest, 2001 (82-80) (ot)
    (49) Florida, 1994 NCAA Final Four (70-65)
    (50) Maryland, 2000 ACC Tournament Final (81-68)
    (51) Kentucky, 2001-2002 @ Meadowlands (95-92) (ot)
    (52) Texas, 2005-2006 @ Meadowlands (97-66)
    (53) @ North Carolina, 1988 (70-69)
    (54) North Carolina, 2005 (71-70)
    (55) Kansas, 2000 NCAA 2nd Round (69-64)
    (56) St. Johnís and Kansas, 1985-1986 Pre-season NIT (71-70 and 92-86)
    (57) North Carolina, 1992 (89-77)
    (58) Texas, 2009 NCAA 2nd Round (74-69)
    (59) Boston College, 2006 ACC Tournament Final (78-76)
    (60) Xavier, 2004 NCAA South Regional (66-63)
    (61) @ North Carolina, 2004 (83-81) (ot)
    (62) @ St. Johnís, 1999 (92-88) (ot)
    (63) N. Carolina, 1999 ACC Tournament Final (96-73)
    (64) N.C. St., 2003 ACC Tournament Final (84-77)
    (65) St. Johnís, 1991 NCAA Midwest Regional (78-61)
    (66) Florida St., 2009 ACC Tournament Final (79-69)
    (67) Oklahoma, 1986 (93-84)
    (68) @ UCLA, 1992 (75-65)
    (69) Georgia Tech, 1990 (88-86)
    (70) North Carolina, 2010 (82-50)
    (71) Notre Dame, 1986 (75-74)
    (72) @ Michigan St, 2003-2004 (72-50)
    (73) N.C. St., 1988 ACC Tournament Semis (73-71)
    (74) Virginia, 2001 (103-61)
    (75) @ Purdue, 2008-2009 (76-60)
    (76) N. Carolina, 2000 (90-76)
    (77) Indiana and Iowa, 1995-1996 Great Alaska Shootout (70-64 and 88-81)
    (78) Washington, 1985 (71-59)
    (79) Marquette, 2007-2008 Maui Final (77-73)
    (80) Maryland, 2002 (99-78)
    (81) N. Carolina, 1999 (89-77)
    (82) @ North Carolina, 2002 (87-58)
    (83) U.Conn, 2009-2010 Pre-season NIT (68-59)
    (84) @ N.C. St., 1996 (71-70)
    (85) @ North Carolina, 1999 (81-61)
    (86) N.C. State, 1990 (85-82)
    (87) @ Indiana, 2005-2006 (75-67)
    (88) Maryland, 2009 (85-44)
    (89) Georgia Tech, 1991 (98-57)
    (90) @ Georgia Tech, 1990 (96-91)
    (91) Maryland, 2010 (77-56)
    (92) North Carolina, 2002 (93-68)
    (93) @ Virginia, 1984 (78-72)
    (94) Wake Forest, 2009 (101-91)
    (95) Michigan, 2000-2001 (104-61)
    (96) UCLA, 1996 (85-66)
    (97) @ N. C. St., 2008 (87-86)
    (98) Gonzaga, @ at MSG 2009-2010 (76-41)
    (99) Florida, 1998-1999 (116-86)
    (100) Maryland, 1986 (80-68)

  2. #2

    Stunning...

    That's a pretty impressive list you've compiled. My props to you.

    As we get farther down the list it's harder to judge the proper order of the games. Somehow I can see the 1992 Duke-UK matchup moving up or down a slot depending on how you view it's affect on the public's perception of Duke and the fact that "the shot" is played without end.

    Your last criteria was how well Duke played in the game. I don't recall a more fantastic display of college basketball than that game. Laettner was perfect from the floor if I remember correctly. Also, in the public's consciousness, that might be the most well known game. Yes, it wasn't the championship game, but I'm willing to overlook that one

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Charlottesville, VA
    I would put #11 in bold print myself. Younger fans may not realize how important that game was. Perhaps the "break-through win" of K's Duke program sending it on to stratospheric heights. But first you had to beat Dean Smith and UNC, and in a game that mattered in the local neighborhood. Older fans like myself will maybe remember marvelling at the time that, at last, we had players who were as talented, as quick to the ball, and fought as hard as vaunted UNC. It was a revolutionary game in my mind for Duke. Doesn't matter that Duke couldn't quite pull off the championship game the next day. We still knew we had finally gotten back to the Big Time. The rest... is history. Thanks again. Coach, and all the players through these years (thanks for the thread, too)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, North Carolina
    Quote Originally Posted by Faustus View Post
    I would put #11 in bold print myself. Younger fans may not realize how important that game was. Perhaps the "break-through win" of K's Duke program sending it on to stratospheric heights. But first you had to beat Dean Smith and UNC, and in a game that mattered in the local neighborhood. Older fans like myself will maybe remember marvelling at the time that, at last, we had players who were as talented, as quick to the ball, and fought as hard as vaunted UNC. It was a revolutionary game in my mind for Duke. Doesn't matter that Duke couldn't quite pull off the championship game the next day. We still knew we had finally gotten back to the Big Time. The rest... is history. Thanks again. Coach, and all the players through these years (thanks for the thread, too)
    Game #1 and Game #11 were the games I went looking for on the list. You said it very well regarding Game #11. I wonder if we'd have gotten Danny Ferry without that win, and without Ferry as a freshman, I don't think we win 37 games in 1986 (but we still would have been very good) or go to all those final fours.

    Game #1 was where it seemed like we'd finally gotten the monkey off our backs, even though it wasn't the final game. Biggest shot in Duke's history, for me anyway, was Bobby hitting that three.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Faustus View Post
    I would put #11 in bold print myself. Younger fans may not realize how important that game was. Perhaps the "break-through win" of K's Duke program sending it on to stratospheric heights. But first you had to beat Dean Smith and UNC, and in a game that mattered in the local neighborhood. Older fans like myself will maybe remember marvelling at the time that, at last, we had players who were as talented, as quick to the ball, and fought as hard as vaunted UNC. It was a revolutionary game in my mind for Duke. Doesn't matter that Duke couldn't quite pull off the championship game the next day. We still knew we had finally gotten back to the Big Time. The rest... is history. Thanks again. Coach, and all the players through these years (thanks for the thread, too)

    I think you guys are right and I've undervalued that game. It's got to be in the top 5.

    While the 1992 Kentucky game is righly lauded for all the reasons everyone knows, I can't quite put it at the top of the list given that (i) we were a very large favorite in that game, (ii) we turned it over repeatedly and allowed Kentucky to shoot 57% for the game, and (iii) blew a double-digit second half lead.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    New York, NY
    I should forward your list to friends who think I spend too much time following the team. Hats off.

    I think I agree with your placing the championship games just under the heart-stopping games that came just before, though of course the Vegas and KY games wouldn't have been as meaningful if we'd then lost the championship.

    I might put the Temple game a bit higher (King shutting down Macon, etc), though that's probably because it was one of the few games on the list that I attended, and I distinctly recall feeling uncharacteristically pessimistic going into the game. The rest of the list I'll let wash over me like a sunny day.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Steamboat Springs, CO

    Talking Michigan State in St. Pete?

    I may have missed it, but the 1999 Final Four win over Michigan State in St. Pete deserves to be somewhere on the list.

    sagegrouse

  8. #8
    Game #1 was where it seemed like we'd finally gotten the monkey off our backs, even though it wasn't the final game. Biggest shot in Duke's history, for me anyway, was Bobby hitting that three.
    Brian Davis with the 3-point play was also huge near the end - I was always on his case it seemed until that play. Then I had to promise the kids only high praises for Davis - had to stick with that for a whole nother year.
    Last edited by JBDuke; 12-21-2010 at 06:59 PM. Reason: fixed quote tag

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Quote Originally Posted by Nugget View Post
    I think you guys are right and I've undervalued that game. It's got to be in the top 5.
    You ranked it as the highest game that wasn't in the NCAA Tournament, and (by extension) the most important Duke-UNC game of the Coach K era. That's plenty of praise.

    I like the list and, surprisingly, the comments. Usually these kinds of Internet board endeavors have a original post that requires hours of research followed by petty replies that are a few seconds of lazy, dismissive criticism.

  10. #10

    Missing the Obvious

    Coach K's most important, and therefore Top, win was signing Johnny Dawkins. If you haven't been around that long, Jim Sumner will tell you why.

    Tack me onto the its a great list list. Reposting during the off season would generate some unbelieveable, and extensive, reminiscing. Hats off.
    Last edited by madscavenger; 12-21-2010 at 07:15 PM.
    "What am i doing in a state of consciousness where THIS is real?"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Charlottesville, VA
    And to be honest, I can't even remember any individual details of the Duke-Carolina ACC game (#11 on the menu) now, except, oddly, late in the going Michael Jordan not being able to keep a bouncing ball from going out of bounds. I can remember LOTS of #1, however, and certainly Hurley's 3 where he doesn't even hesitate to let that thing go when a late momentum changer was so so needed. YES!

    No complaints about the ordering at all, just wanted to put in a plug for #11. This is a fabulous list.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Love the list. Thanks for the effort. Obviously, NCAA tourney and ACC tourney games rank high on the list. I thought it was interesting to look at your top 10 regular season games.

    (14) @UNC 2001 (95-81) [After Boozer's foot injury and "it's over". Starting Duhon for Nate. Shane just run around defense. Shane's out of nowhere block on Forte's breakaway]
    (15) UNC 1998 (77-75) [17 point 2nd half comeback. Coach K's 500th win. My favorite game during my ugrad years. Loudest I have ever heard the place when Cota, then Haywood, shot FTs]
    (18) UNC 1986 (82-74) [Clinch first ACC regular season title under K by beating arch rival]
    (23) Michigan 1992-93 (79-68) [Fab Five comes in talking trash and vowing revenge for Nat Champ loss and leaves with tail between legs]
    (25) UNC 1997 (80-73) [Getting the UNC monkey off our backs after losing 7 in a row]
    (26) @ Maryland, 2001 (98-96) (ot) [Gone in 54 seconds. 'Nuff said]
    (27) @ LSU, 1992 (77-67) [Taking care of Shaq on the road without an injured Hurley]
    (28) @ North Carolina, 1985 (93-77) [First reg season win against UNC for K since the Gene Banks game. Showed we could play with UNC all the time]
    (29) @ Wake Forest, 1997 (73-68) [I admit I was looking to see how much importance you gave this game and agree that it should be this high. Went to the Joel and beat #2 Wake with Carrawell guarding Duncan most of the game. After 95 and 96 seasons it felt like we could beat anyone in the country again]
    (31) LSU, 1991 (88-70) [Shaq part I, Laettner handles Shaq with relative ease]

    I think it is much more difficult to sift back through regular season games and rank them but you did a really solid job. The only game that I might have moved up into these ten would have been the Maui champ victory over #1 Arizona (41). Wojo shut down Bibby and we saw exactly how good the Battier, Brand, Avery class was and that we were legit national title contenders again.

    Again great list. I think discussion and dissection of this can keep us all busy until the UNC-G game.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    Dumbstruck

    I have nothing to say except that's one heck of a research project the OP took on. Nice work.

  14. #14
    [The only game that I might have moved up into these ten would have been the Maui champ victory over #1 Arizona (41). Wojo shut down Bibby and we saw exactly how good the Battier, Brand, Avery class was and that we were legit national title contenders again.]

    A fair point. I probably "overrated" the 1991 LSU game (31), the 1989 game at Carolina (36), the 1990 Arizona game (36) and the 1988 Carolina game (40) because of my personal bias having attended those games.

    The win against Arizona at Maui in 97 was fantastic for all the reasons you mentioned.

    I did leave out the 1999 Final Four game against Michigan St. for several reasons. One, I remember almost nothing from that game except it was a slog-fest. Two, I don't feel nearly as much affection for that team as I should, in part because I think they bought their own hype a little bit and because of what happened after the 99 Final Fourt, with the Corey/Piggie revelations and all the guys leaving early.

    Thanks for all the comments. It was fun to think about on a quiet weekend.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Durham
    I put the 2010 win above either of the the 92 or 01 championships....maybe higher....if coach K had never gotten a fourth title, we're not talking about him right now as the GOAT, and what he did with the group of players he had....no one expected us to win.....I tihnk this has to be one of the top 3 games in duke history...along with the UK game and the UNLV game
    9f

  16. #16
    Impressive compilation. Of the top 10, four were decided by: 1 (OT), 1 (OT), 2, and 2 points. And three of those four games were in national championship years. Really drives home K's quote that to be a champion a team has to be "good ... and lucky." It's really been an embarrassment of riches.

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nugget View Post
    (16) Temple, 1988 NCAA East Regional (63-53)
    Great list Nugget, and I agree that you should repost this at the end of the season when we have some more time to reflect.

    I'd like to highlight #16, and suggest it should be higer. This is the first big-time NCAA tourney game in which we were supposed to lose. Big underdogs to Marc Macon. John Chaney was an institution, getting his players up at something crazy like 5:30 in the morning to practice. Bill Cosby raised the stakes (the most popular man on television at the time) by making a bet that he'd wear a Duke sweatshirt on his show if we beat them. Billy King's biggest moment.

    K established that he could win the big tourney games even when he wasn't the favorite. We had a great steak of regional wins after this as well.

    Instrumental in launching K from good up-and-comer to real-deal.
    "Enjoy every sandwich" -- Warren Zevon

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    #86 is very special to me as I always say it was the night I fell in love with Duke basketball and the date of the game is my screen name. Thanks for including it.

  19. #19
    Not sure where it could/should be placed but an important game for Coach and the '92 team was down at Clemson where we were behind most of the game and coach pulled all the starters except for B. Davis since he was the only one playing well. The bench responded by keeping us in the game and Coach got through to the remaining starters to get back on the court and take care of business. I remember not being able to watch it (either it wasn't televised or it just wasn't on around here) and had to sit out in the car, in the cold, and listen to it on the radio.

  20. #20
    Great work!

    I think I might put the 1981 UNC-Duke win closer to the top of the regular season wins you listed. This game proved K's X's-O's genius, and gave him enough "cred" with the administration to weather the next very lean year...allowing him to bridge the gap until he landed the famous 1982 high school recruiting class.

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