Leave it to Duke.
And leave it to the last minute.
In the final game of the 2015 Elite Eight, with five of six ACC teams already eliminated from the NCAA tournament, Duke dropped Gonzaga to secure the Blue Devils’ 16th Final Four appearance. Thus ended an ACC drought matching the longest in conference history, four years in a row without reaching the national semifinals.
A remarkable five ACC squads reached the Sweet 16. Then, one by one, like stars fading in the morning light, they vanished from view.
North Carolina fell to Wisconsin, which advanced to the Final Four. NC State, which last made the Final Four in 1983, lost to Louisville, technically another ACC school. (We’re not entirely sold on this arrangement, but we’ll try to get there.)
The Cardinals in turn lost to Michigan State, giving the Big 10 a pair of Final Four teams.
And of course Notre Dame, which made it to a single Final Four in 1978, lost a valiant effort against Kentucky. The Wildcats will take on Wisconsin in a rematch from last year’s national semifinals. And Duke will take on Tom Izzo’s Spartans, whom the Blue Devils defeated before Thanksgiving.
Michigan State last reached the Final Four in 2010, and lost to Butler, which then fell to Duke in the title game.
In Izzo’s six previous visits to the Final Four, he only crossed Mike Krzyzewski’s path once. That was in 1999, and the Blue Devils emerged victorious. Izzo’s 2000 national title came after wins against defeating Wisconsin and Florida.
ACC Teams With Visits To Final Four (Underlined Season Indicates NCAA Title)
|FF||School||NCAA Titles||Most Recent||Berths Since 2000|
|18||North Carolina||5-1957, 82, 93, 05, 09||2009||2005, 2008, 2009|
|16||Duke||4-1991, 92, 01,10||2010||2001, 2004, 2010, 2015|
|10||Louisville*||3-1980, 86, 13||2013||2005, 2012, 2013|
|3||N.C. State||2-1974, 83||1983||NA|
|* Arrived in 2014-15.
** Left after 2013-14.