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Duke Sends Its Devils to Set the Sunshine State on Fire

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DURHAM — Duke made its way to theSunshine Statefor thebig dance, and the hoopla is following the team.

A Duke departure is a little different than most. There were no cheerleaders, marching band or crowds of screaming students.

Instead, a polite gathering of alumni, many who probably graduated before the players were born. A few ticket seekers were also standing by, hoping maybe an extra seat would fall off the team bus.

But, there were some places on campus where the students were psyched.

"Saturday I see us winning definitely. Monday, everybody's going to be going crazy," Duke student Jared Lina said. "Cameron's going to be packed and I think we're going to bring it home and we're definitely going to burn stuff. It's going to be unbelievable. It's going to be the best time in all of our lives without a doubt."

"It's got to be Duke all the way. The only way we'll lose is, people have said it, if we beat ourselves," another student said. "It's probably one of the best teams that I've ever seen in this. People have said it's arguably the best, one of the best teams ever in history."

"We haven't made it to the Final Four since I've been in school, so this is so new for everybody here. It might seem like we're all calm, but everyone's just saving up, everyone's preparing," one fan said. "Everyone's hitting the books now so we can go full force the whole weekend."

Coach Mike Krzyzewski is not as confident as some of the Cameron Crazies. However, he appreciates all the hype back home, and he wants to remind everyone that his team is only one part of a one-two punch.

"Cameron will be rocking Friday night, when our women's team plays and Saturday night when we play," Krzyzewski said. "And hopefully Sunday and Monday too, because that means we both advance. It's incredible, it's unique and we're certainly happy to be one half of it."

The Don CeSar is home to the Duke basketball team while in Florida. The hotel was built in 1928 and is a jewel of Florida opulence.

Its seven stunning stories are ready to shine for some 6 and 7 footers from North Carolina. "A lot of the rooms have 15-and-a-half-foot ceilings. And some of the walls are as much as a foot-and-a-half thick," said Susan Phillips, with Hotel Services.

The hotel received word Sunday that it would be hosting the nation's number one team. Employees are being low-key, but one thing they can't tone down is Don CeSar's pink patina.

Phillips says pink and Duke blue might be a winning combination. "I think everybody can use a little bit of the pink hotel. They say pink is a color that calms you down, and tones you down so you can really go out there and win."

WRAL's news and sports teams will provide live reports from Florida until Duke heads home.

We also have a crew on its way to San Jose forthe women's Final Four. They will bring us live reports starting Friday.

WRAL will present a "Battle at the Bay" special Friday night from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, watch Duke battle Michigan State on WRAL at 8 p.m. Stay tuned to WRAL for another "Battle at the Bay" special, live from St. Petersburg, following the game. andLynn French


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