People have talked a lot about Mike Krzyzewski’s first trip to the national championship game in 1986, but to get there, the Blue Devils had to defeat Kansas and that wasn’t easy either.
Kansas had Ron Kellogg, Greg Dreiling and a young rising star in Danny Manning. They also had a pugnacious guard with limited talent in reserve named Mark Turgeon.
Kansas was also coached by Larry Brown, a UNC grad who was a key figure in the Art Heyman fight of yore (Brown basically went after his old friend Heyman on a layup and it was on).
Manning had a disastrous game for the Jayhawks, playing only 23 minutes before fouling out and scoring just four points.
Duke had a great defensive performance from Mark Alarie, who was responsible for Manning’s poor outing.
Duke would go on to lose to Louisville the following Monday night but everyone understood that Mike Krzyzewski could coach.
Postscript: Duke and KU would meet again in 1988 in the Final Four before he did with the Kansas and Manning winning the rematch. Brown would leave Kansas soon, as he’s left nearly every job, unhappy and blaming others for his failure but the Jayhawks had the wisdom to hire an untested Roy Williams who immediately became, and remained, an elite coach.