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Duke returns to Final Four

3/29/2010

Let's salute the Dukies: they're going back to the Final Four for the first time since 2004!

This is a Blue Devils team that does a lot more than hit the trifecta. Duke is tenacious on defense, playing hard on every possession. The unit did a great job slowing down Tweety Carter in the second half of the regional final.

Nolan Smith set the tone early, finding the gaps in the Baylor zone and finishing with a game-high 29 points. The three 'S' men -- Smith, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler -- have carried the team all season long. Singler went through struggle city against the Bears, going 0-for-10 from the floor. My friends, I didn't think Duke could win with Singler going oh-fer, but it shows that this Blue Devil squad has a lot of weapons.

Jon Scheyer put an end to any talk of him suffering through fatigue. He has totaled 38 points in the last two games as he concludes his outstanding college career with a trip to Indianapolis.

I was also impressed with Duke's rebounding. The Blue Devils had many second chance opportunities and really took advantage of them. Brian Zoubek has developed into a major factor on the glass and on the interior. Yet a player who doesn't get nearly enough publicity is Lance Thomas. He had eight offensive rebounds against Baylor, and he kept several balls alive to allow second and third chances.

I know fans either love or hate Duke, but I simply don't understand that. What's not to love about a program whose players show passion and intensity and do things with integrity? Duke graduates its players and there is flat-out jealousy over the program's success.

The Blue Devils are marching on to Indianapolis, the lone No. 1 seed going to the Final Four.