Duke withdraws from ACC tournament, NCAA tournament streak ends


GREENSBORO, North Carolina (AP) – Duke entered the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament hoping to make an unprecedented run to extend his long streak of NCAA tournaments.

Instead, the Blue Devils had to abruptly withdraw from the tournament and end their 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 No. 15 Florida State for Thursday night has been canceled. And athletic director Kevin White said Duke’s season is 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 on the program came after Wednesday’s win against Louisville, the Blue Devils’ second win in as many days at Greensboro. Before this, there had been no positive tests all season for a player or coach, he said.

“Since last March, when the pandemic began, we have listened to our medical experts and have always put security at the forefront of any determination regarding competition,” White said. “As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season. We hope that all the teams that continue to play college basketball have good health and the best for the next few weeks. “

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

“We haven’t asked any team for more in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men that they are,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “I am deeply sorry for our players, who have done a great job all season taking care of each other and the team.

“I am extremely proud of their collective attitudes and efforts, which could not have been stronger.”

With Duke’s retirement, the Seminoles advanced to the ACC Tournament semifinals to face the winner of North Carolina-Virginia Tech.

“I just think preparing for the unexpected is what we’ve been trying to do all year,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “It is unfortunate that we cannot play this game today. But we have to deal with that in a mature way and just be glad that no one is at risk. “

Additionally, Louisville issued a statement Thursday saying its tests came back negative after Duke’s game and did not anticipate any concerns with contact tracing.

“Our group is tested daily and is on track to have the necessary consecutive days of negative testing to be able to compete in the NCAA Tournament,” the school said.

With Duke’s season over, this will be the first time since 1976 that both the Blue Devils and another basketball player, Kentucky, will not be in the NCAA. The wildcats lost his first Southeastern Conference Tournament against the state of Mississippi on Thursday, securing that program’s first losing season since 1988-89.

Duke had not missed the NCAA Tournament since the 1994-95 season when Krzyzewski stepped down from coaching after complications from back surgery. Assistant Pete Gaudet took over, and that team finished 13-18 a year after Duke had played in the NCAA title game.

Before that, Krzyzewski had missed the tournament at Duke in just his first three seasons, when he was 38-47 combined and faced mounting pressure to turn things around when neighbors from Triangle, North Carolina (1982) and the North Carolina State (1983) won. NCAA Championships.

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

This year started with some of the same expectations even 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 at No. 9 in the AP Top 25, but in mid-January they stopped qualifying for the first time in nearly five years. They lacked the typical home court advantage at a fanless Cameron Indoor Stadium and saw top freshman Jalen Johnson leave the team. in February to prepare for the NBA draft.

After an uneven defeat In rival North Carolina, the Blue Devils knew they probably needed to win the ACC Tournament to extend the NCAA’s streak, even though no team has won five games in five days at the tournament. They opened with an uneven victory against Boston College and then beat Louisville in the quarterfinals on Wednesday after losing both regular-season games.

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

“This will pay off at some point if you stick with it,” Krzyzewski said after a February loss to Notre Dame. “He did it in ’82 and ’83, he did it in ’95 -96, and he did it in 2006. There are moments in our show where he learned to appreciate the victory that has reached such a high level and how hard it is to lose. .

“And we as a program must continue to learn that and continue to appreciate what it takes to win. You don’t do that without working hard or trying to improve. And that’s what we’re going to do “.

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