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Duke Falls To FSU, 62-59

While we'd obviously rather have won Saturday's semifinal ACC Tournament game, we don't have a particular problem with losing to Florida State. They have become a fine program with a definite identity and they're a real asset to the ACC - words we never really thought we'd say.

The ACC has become a tent with two main poles in Duke and UNC. We've been calling for changes to that for a long time now, with specific calls to making coaching changes at several schools. Over the next few years, there's going to be a lot of change in the conference and that's good. We want everybody - 12, 14, 16 and even if they went to 50 - we want all ACC teams to be good.

Even if that means it's not as easy to win. It's healthy. It's good for the conference.

We had a stray thought the other day which we're not sure we've seen suggested anywhere else, but think about it: you've seen a number of reasons why ACC Tournament tickets have become easier to get, ranging from the economy to expansion to various teams struggling.

All of these may be valid reasons. But can we toss out another?

Duke keeps winning the damn thing, and when they don't, Carolina does. You know, if you're a Clemson or Virginia fan, or a BC fan, why bother? You know the odds are that Duke or UNC will get it. If memory serves (we're not going to look this up but we're pretty sure this is right), the last non 15-501 team to win was Maryland in 2004. Before that it was Tim Duncan's Wake Forest, and that's going back some.

Duke and UNC have been powerful for a long time - with small interruptions since the McGuire era for UNC ('53-'61 and the Bubas era for Duke ('60-'69) and arguably earlier.

There's been nothing like the dominance of the last 11 years - and it may not be over if UNC wins.

After a certain point, if you're not a fan of one of those two, why bother?

Duke and UNC have had a remarkable run of sustained greatness.

UNC will have a lot of fans in Atlanta Sunday, but FSU may too: Tallahassee is just a five hour drive. We're guessing that a lot of people will drive up on Sunday to cheer their team on. It may be just a big cocktail party to Ol' Roy Williams, but for Florida State, it's a chance for validation.

We would have been upset if Duke hadn't shown up or given their all, but that wasn't the case. Duke played just as hard as FSU did, and they very nearly pulled it out. Florida State literally couldn't rest until Seth Curry's last-second half-court shot, which would have forced overtime, bounced off the rim.

It reminded one of Danny Ferry's near miss in, what, 1989?

Duke did this despite not having Ryan Kelly, and the games in Atlanta really revealed how critical he has become to this team. His outside shooting ability forces opponents to send a big man wherever he goes, which in turn helps to open the inside up for Curry and Austin Rivers.

There are a number of things you can look at in this game and pick apart if you want - Andre Dawkins didn't score in 31 minutes of action over two games, Austin Rivers shot 10-24 and 2-11 from three point range - there are no doubt more things, like 14 turnovers in the first half against FSU.

They nearly overcame all of it, missing a chance to win another ACC title by just a couple of plays. There were some tough things along the way, but as Coach K has pointed out on several occasions, flawed this team may be, it keeps showing that it has immense heart.

Given several days rest, we're excited about their NCAA prospects.

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