DURHAM, N.C. — Many people believe the winner of Saturday's national-semifinal game between Duke and Connecticut will win the NCAA basketball championship.
The Huskies and Blue Devils are scheduled to tip off Saturday at approximately 8:47 p.m. in a game that will be shown on WRAL. The game is a rematch of the 1999 national-championship game, won by Connecticut.
If Duke loses, it will not be because Duke's Mike Krzyzewski will be outcoached. At least one newspaper has rated Krzyzewski the greatest basketball coach in ACC history, and it is safe to say he would rank among the top two or three.
Krzyzewski is appearing in his 10th Final Four. If Duke wins two games to get the championship, Coach K will have four national titles and hold the record for most coaching wins in the NCAA tournament.
To some, Duke's success in men's basketball has drawn comparisons to the UCLA dynasty of the 1960s and '70s. John Wooden's Bruins and Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are the only teams to repeat as national champions since 1973.
Krzyzewski started his coaching career at Army. In five seasons, the Cadets were 73-59. Krzyzewski guided Army to a 20-win season in 1977 and to the 1978 NIT before leaving for Duke after the 1979-80 season. At Duke, of course, his career took off.
Here is an in-depth, season-by-season chronology of Krzyzewski's Duke career, from his first game in 1980 all the way through his third national championship in 2001.
Players have come and gone. Emphasis has changed from team play to individuals. But Krzyzewski has been a mainstay.
There have been many significant and spectacular moments in Coach K's reign. This timeline hopes to capture, illustrate and put in perspective the magnitude of the Blue Devils' achievements and the mastery of their leader.
The last two seasons prior to the present one -- 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 -- resulted in ACC Tournament championships, even though the team did not get past the regional semifinals. In fact, the 2003 ACC Tournament championship gave Duke an unprecedented five in a row.
The Blue Devils went 31-4 in 2001-2002 and were a top seed in the NCAA Tournament for a record fifth straight season. They were ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll for a record fourth straight year, and they were No. 1 in 14 of the season's 18 polls. But Indiana knocked off Duke by a single point, 74-73, to deny the Blue Devils a chance to repeat as champions for the second time.
Last season, Duke finished 26-7 after entering the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed -- unusual by Duke standards -- and was beaten by Kansas in the round of 16. Some may have seen it as a down year. But the team also had lost three stars from the season before to early NBA departure and had six freshmen on its roster.
Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils showed they hardly were going backwards this season, even though they failed to win a sixth straight ACC Tournament. They enjoyed a No. 1 ranking again this season and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for a seventh straight year before making it to the Final Four once again.
Coach K's National-Championship Season Highlights
Season-By-Season Chronology Of Milestones, Significant Moments
2000-01 (35-4; NCAA Champs): Come Back, Shane
1999-2000 (29-5): Despite Losses, Duke Remains Record-Setting Program
1998-99 (37-2; Final Four): From Unbeatable To Unbelievable
1997-98 (32-4): Nearly Perfect In ACC
1996-97 (24-9: Back On Top
1995-96 (18-13): New Mindset, New Effort To Rebuild
1994-95 (13-18): Bad Back Equals Bad Setback
1993-94 (28-6; Final Four): Coming Back Strong
1992-93 (24-8): All Good Things Must End
1991-92 (34-2; NCAA Champs): Repeat Champs; No. 1 Start To Finish
1990-91 (37-3; NCAA Champs): National Champions At Last
1989-90 (29-9; Final Four): Another Dream Season, Nightmare Finish
1988-89 (28-8; Final Four): Repeat Performance
1987-88 (28-7; Final Four): Redefining Success
1986-87 (24-9): Down Year Equals 24 Victories
1985-86 (37-3; Final Four): Decade Of Dominance Begins
1984-85 (23-8): Good Start, Sudden Finish
1983-84 (24-10): New Contract, New Standard Of Success
1982-83 (11-17): Finding Inspiration In Defeat
1981-82 (10-17): Losing Replaces Winning
1980-81 (17-13): Off To Good Start