I'm looking at the Butler-VCU game right now and I can't help but wonder what if Kyrie had not been hurt. Butler looks good right now and I think about how Duke played them earlier in the season and won the game by double digits. And considering how good Duke looked in the early part of the season with Kyrie, it would not be hard to think that Duke would have continued to grow and become a very dominant team. Yet, I'm not so sure that this year's team had the mental toughness of last year's team; and I think it was that toughness and will to win/refusal of last year's team that was every bit as important in their success as their ability to defend, rebound and make timely shots when needed. And when I consider the second half meltdowns and losses to VT, UNC, Fla. ST and Arizona, I can't help but think that even with Kyrie for a full season, Duke could've still lost in the sweet 16 by a hot team like Arizona and might not have made it to the final 4. Saying that, I'm still very proud of what this team has accomplished this year and thankful for what Nolan and Kyle brought to this team. I just wanted to get thoughts from other posters about this.
I do not know about the final four but I think we would not have lost in the regular season. Actually I think we would be in the final four.
Both VCU and Butler doesn't have any McDonald's All-Americans on the team. How many does Duke have? With or without Kyrie, Duke had enough players and talent to make the Final Four...but didn't.
Hard to believe that if Duke would have made it to the championship game they would be playing Butler again
I also think back to the 2002 team, which had Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Chris Duhon, and Dahntay Jones. 5 NBA players. They also lost in the Sweet 16. However, Jason has later said that that team's focus was not there that season. Players had a lot of outside influences in their ears, especially regarding draft status and the NBA. Maybe this example of distractions is something that's common for higher profile teams to encounter, while others, such as Butler, don't have to experience...
Butler struggled early in the season but came on strong at the end. Let's not sell them short. They're a very good team and their fan base is getting very cocky as witnessed by the, "Where's Duke" sign that was sported at today's game.
Based on how well Duke looked early in the year and that they would have only gotten better as the year went on, sure you'd say they'd be in the Final Four. But then again the most talented teams in the country (not just Duke) didn't make it. Crazy crazy tourney. Takes one bad half and one great half by one player to knock you out
This year, Butler was like #46 or something like that. VCU was even worse at #85. The best teams are not in the final four. IMO Kentucky is the only one that can even be close to be claiming to be the best overall team this year. UCONN was barely in the top half of their conference.
I think that Duke would have been there had Irving not been injured. Irving and Mason were both starting to break out when the injury happened. We become a very good team in spite of that with Curry and Miles, but that team never got to play in the tournament.
I didn't say Butler was a bad team. But if you look at their body of work, including the narrow escapes in the NCAAs, but also including their diffident play in December and January, it's hard to conclude that they are much more than an okay team on a nice run.