Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Duke Blue Devils advance to final of NCAA Tournament with rout of West Virginia Mountaineers

INDIANAPOLIS — Just what Cinderella needs. A wicked stepsister.

For if Butler is one of the most implausible national championship contenders since the NCAA Tournament field expanded, Duke is as close as it gets to college basketball royalty in this generation.

The Blue Devils crushed West Virginia 78-57 Saturday night to reach the national title game for the eighth time in the past 25 years. No other team has made more than four championship game appearances in that span.

"It's definitely going to be a big story," Duke guard Nolan Smith said. "People calling Butler the Cinderella and, of course, Duke is the big-time program. But it's going to be a fight. Both teams are very good. I just can't wait to play."

The way they played Saturday, the Blue Devils may not have wanted to leave the court. Duke was nearly flawless, opening a 10-point lead with 12 minutes remaining and never letting the Mountaineers get any closer.

Duke shot 52.7 percent from the field and 52 percent from the 3-point line. It had 20 assists and only six turnovers. And it isn't looking like a fluke. The Blue Devils (34-5) have now outscored opponents by an average of 17 points in the NCAA Tournament.

"Rarely have we had it all together in the same game. We did a great job in every aspect tonight," center Brian Zoubek said. "It's the best feeling in the world to play your best basketball at the end of the year."

Now all Duke has to do is get past the team that has captured the attention of a nation. Butler is a small private school, from a nondescript conference, playing in its first Final Four just 6 miles from its campus.

It's hard not to portray the Bulldogs as some kind of underdog against a team with three national championships since 1991, but Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is doing his best to level the odds.

"I think they're one of the best teams in the country. I think Cinderella would be if somebody had eight or nine losses and pulled some upsets," he said. "I don't know for sure, but I think they've won 25 in a row. Yeah, they've beaten Syracuse and Kansas State and Michigan State. I don't really consider them Cinderella."

Butler is just the third No. 5 seed to reach the championship game. In each of the previous two times, the No. 5 seed has lost to a No. 1 in the final game.

"Anytime you come to Duke, there are so many great players that played before you. So many great teams," said guard Jon Scheyer, who finished with 23 points and six assists. "It's great to be able to add something on."

West Virginia, playing in its first Final Four since 1959, was without starting point guard Darryl Bryant, who broke his foot a week ago, then lost All-American Da'Sean Butler with a knee injury in the second half.

The Mountaineers (31-7) have survived most of the season with a stellar defense but could do nothing to slow Duke down in the second half.

"This team has had big goals all year," Scheyer said. "We're not planning on stopping now."

John Romano can be reached at

Duke 78

W. Va. 57

Duke Blue Devils advance to final of NCAA Tournament with rout of West Virginia Mountaineers 04/04/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 4, 2010 12:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Starting at top: O.J. Howard becomes first Bucs rookie to sign


    The Bucs have begun the process of signing their rookie draft picks and they started at the top.

    Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has signed a four-year contract with a fifth-year club option with the Bucs.
  2. Hey, somebody really ought to write about this Aaron Judge guy


    He can catch, too.

    It's no tall tale.

    Aaron Judge, The Amazing Colossal Man, has come and gone, but not before he stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge robbed Evan Longoria of an RBI double and helped …

    Aaron Judge stunned the Rays with a diving, game-saving catch in the sixth inning of Yankees 3-2 win Sunday at Tropicana Field.
  3. FSU, Gators, USF and Miami all in Athlon preseason top 25


    The college football preseason magazines are trickling in, as our Joey Knight wrote earlier.

  4. Bucs' Jameis Winston rising in fantasy football rankings


    We're still probably three months away from most fantasy football drafts, but it's not too early to appreciate that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has taken a major step up in the rankings entering his third NFL season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is ranking much higher in fantasy football rankings entering his third NFL season.
  5. A new look at the top of women's tennis: It's wide open


    ROME — Asked Sunday if she believed, as the oddsmakers do, that she is the French Open favorite, Simona Halep dissented.