Typical Duke, all business and no celebration, there was no mosh pit at centercourt when the Blue Devils brought home another ACC tournament championship last week. And of course, coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn't popping corks following his 72nd career NCAA Tournament win on Friday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 73-44.
"I thought it was more of a workmanlike performance by our team," Krzyzewski said. "... You know, we're more talented than they are, but I thought we played as hard and we played very well. So happy with my team and happy to be moving on."
Krzyzewski has a pretty good idea of how to parlay regular-season success into more fun in the postseason. This marks the 11th time the Blue Devils have been tagged as a No. 1 regional seed.
And while Duke made it through the conference tournament relative unscathed, the Blue Devils were witnesses to the dangers that can show up for high-seeded teams. Duke was the only team among the top five seeds in the ACC tournament to win a game.
With that backdrop, the Blue Devils will push aside the euphoria of winning the conference in order to concentrate on the NCAA Tournament.
"This definitely prepares us," guard Nolan Smith said. "It gets us in this feeling of winning championships. It's such a great feeling that everybody wants to have. Going into the next tournament, we know what it takes to win these games."
DUKE 73, ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF 44: Duke used its size to overwhelm Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and was relentless with defensive pressure, forcing 16 turnovers to advance to the second round behind 22 points from Kyle Singler.
Duke had a 39-20 lead at halftime and shot 51 percent from the floor.
NOTES, QUOTES--Duke didn't look past Arkansas-Pine Bluff and won't be eyeing the Sweet Sixteen before the end of the weekend. That's because many of the players on the current roster -- seniors Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and junior Kyle Singler -- had a scare as a No. 2 seed in 2008, fighting to the final whistle to beat back No. 15 Belmont.
"We just scared ourselves two years ago when we were a 2 seed and we had a really close game," Scheyer said of the Belmont upset bid, which Duke denied with a 71-70 win. "We know better than everybody that you have to be ready for every game in this tournament. That's one thing we've talked to the younger guys about a little bit. There's no problem, we're going to be ready to go, and we watched the team on tape. They're a good team, and we need to be ready to go for them."
--Coach Mike Krzyzewski hasn't been to the Final Four since 2006, but he does have 10 Final Fours on his resume and now has 11 seasons with at least 30 wins.
--Duke's 18th ACC tournament championship is the most in league history, one ahead of North Carolina. The Blue Devils won three games without facing a team higher than a sixth seed. The last two games -- against Miami and Georgia Tech -- were decided by a total of seven points. It marked the first time this season that Duke had back-to-back victories by single-digit margins.
--Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is 72-22 in the NCAA Tournament, the most victories for any coach.
COACH: Mike Krzyzewski, 30th year at Duke, 26th year in NCAA Tournament.
KEYS TO VICTORY: As a No. 1 seed, Duke is in great shape and pundits seem to universally agree that the Blue Devils have a most enviable draw. Villanova, the region's No. 2 seed, might be "over-seeded" and Duke's path to the Final Four isn't lined with powerful opposition. The Blue Devils do value every possession and work hard to run through the offense and take advisable shots. But one area that seemed glaring during their final two games of the ACC tournament was the number of shot-clock violations and rushed shots as the shot clock wound down. The Blue Devils might have become too predictable against familiar opponents, and coaches in the tournament will be prepared for Duke's half-court sets. Nothing happened during the conference tournament to diminish the notion that the Blue Devils rely on the big three scoring threats of G Jon Scheyer, F Kyle Singler and G Nolan Smith. Duke's top five is comprised of upperclassmen, including seniors Scheyer, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek. Zoubek can be a quiet difference-maker for duke. He's every ounce of 260 pounds at 7-foot-1 and holds his ground on both ends.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know I broke some things, but I had a soft landing." -- F Kyle Singler, on his first-half crash into ESPN broadcasters courtside as he chased a loose ball in the ACC tournament final. It took time to re-arrange the press row, but Singler didn't seem affected. He played a game-high 39 minutes.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNELSCOUTING REPORT: Duke's Kyle Singler scored 22 points against Arkansas-Pine Bluff after averaging 22 in the Blue Devils' run through the ACC tournament. Singler is making up for atypically cool shooting by his sidekicks, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith. Scheyer seemed to be back in rhythm against UAPB, but Smith is struggling and has had his biggest problems in the first half. As the Blue Devils advance, teams with better personnel and athleticism will challenge Singler with physicality. He's big enough to take most small forward-types by backing to the basket, and he's more athletic than most "4" man personnel. But if a team can shut him down, Scheyer bears the scoring burden. Duke can't win if those two don't score big.
- Duke 57, Virginia 46 (ACC tournament quarterfinal)
- Duke 77, Miami 74 (ACC tournament semifinal)
- Duke 65, Georgia Tech 61 (ACC tournament final)
- Duke 73, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 44 (NCAA Tournament first round)
ROSTER REPORT:--G Nolan Smith has had some rough first halves on offense this season. Smith went 0-for-6 from the field in the first half of the NCAA Tournament first round game against Arkansas Pine Bluff. Smith ended the game with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
He was strong against Georgia Tech in the opening half of the ACC tournament final. He scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half. The 16 points marked his highest point total of the tournament. If there was a drawback, it was he was only 2-for-4 on free throws in the tournament, and he never made it to the foul line in the title game. However, Smith went 4-for-4 on foul shots against UAPB on Friday.
--F Kyle Singler picked up where he'd left off after a stellar ACC tournament, where he was named the event's Most Valuable Player.
Singler had 13 of Duke's first 37 points (13 points, six rebounds in the first half) against UAPB and wound up with a team-high 22 and 10.
In the conference tournament, Singler averaged nearly 22 points per game and his 14-for-16 free-throw shooting in the final provided clutch points. The free throws set a tournament record for a game.