The No.1 ranked Duke Blue Devils came up just short of advancing to the Final Four yesterday when they were upset by the Spartans of Michigan State University in a down to the wire 68-67 defeat. They were the hottest team in all of college basketball and had the highest rated games if any team in the tournament including their loss in the Elite Eight yesterday.
Each of their last three games had headline grabbing storylines associated with them, most of which pertained to how the opposing team would deal with Duke’s superstar freshman Zion Williamson, who is being dubbed as the most dominant and exciting basketball player to come out of high school or college since LeBron James.
There were many casual or non-fans of college basketball and even fans of other collegiate programs that tuned into a Blue Devil’s game just to see whatever highlight monster dunk or block that Williamson was going to make live before it could get a chance to flood all major sports media outlets.
Now that the Final Four only features just one No.1 seed in the University of Virginia Cavaliers, there are some pundits that fear that the lack of top-end star power, especially with Duke and Williamson officially out, could potentially hurt the television ratings of the final four and even the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game next weekend.
There are still some interesting storylines that are surrounding the teams that are still standing whether it’s the red-hot Auburn Tigers who are playing their best ball down the stretch and are rallying around injured sophomore forward Chuma Okeke, who tore his ACL in the team’s Sweet 16 matchup with the No.1 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels last week or the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Spartans, who both upset top seeds in their Final Four bouts.
As heartwarming as some of these Cinderella stories are with their underdog and sentimental human elements within them, there is no substitute for the meteoric star power that came with the Blue Devils and the gravitational pull that Williamson attracted.