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Duke-UNC In The 2022 Final Four: Who Wins The Coaching Duel?

Seems easy on the surface. It may not be.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Practice
NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 01: Mark Williams #15 of the Duke Blue Devils works during their practice session ahead of the 2022 Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four at Caesars Superdome on April 1, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

So how do you factor in coaching for the Duke-Carolina Final Four game? It’s not as easy as you might think.

On first glance, you’d have to give the edge to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. This is his thirteenth trip to the Final Four after all and he’s won five. Leaving this year aside for now, the man is 5-7 in Final Fours. No one does that. No one has his body of knowledge.

But look at what Hubert Davis has done this season because it’s highly impressive.

He significantly modified UNC’s system and when his team was seemingly disinterested, he re-engaged them. And keep this in mind too: basketball is littered with younger coaches bulling their way in, often at the expense of older men. Consider Don Haskins who effectively ended Adolph Rupp’s career in 1966. Bob Knight pushed to the top in 1976. Just look at Shaheen Holloway this spring.

The reason why younger coaches sometimes have the advantage is because older coaches often are set in their ways and reluctant to change and the new guys, well, they have new ideas.

That’s less true with Coach K than anyone we can think of. He has continued to learn and evolve, even in the last weeks with his last team. Plus he has coached against Davis as a player and now as a coach. He has some idea of who he’s up against.

But remember this too. We know just how competitive Mike Krzyzewski is. We’re just getting an idea about Davis, who went, remember, from being recruited as a favor to his Uncle Walter to a solid NBA player. You don’t do that without a core toughness.

But given Coach K’s history of success in preparing for big games, we’d have to lean towards him even though there’s a lot we don’t know about Davis.

We’ll make one last prediction though. Although there have been nervous jokes in the Triangle about Armageddon and the like, we will bet good money on this: no matter who wins, both teams will be back, together, sooner rather than later. Because when whoever loses loses, that’s going to be an incredible motivation.

Someone’s going to be pissed Saturday night and the work to next season will start Sunday. Better get used to them both being there, in other words.