Duke Basketball: 10 Most Disappointing NCAA Tournament Performances of All Time
The Duke basketball program is one of the most storied programs of all time, but even they have experiences they want to shut and hide.
In between four national championship victories, the Blue Devils also experienced some disappointing tourney performances.
Every Duke fan can ring out the shining moments, but very few will be able to speak about the unexpected early exits.
Humans learn to forget. It is my job to remind them.
So, without any further ado, here are the 10 most disappointing NCAA tournament performances of all time form Duke.
1955 Versus Villanova
This was the first time that Duke had made the NCAA tournament and they got bounced in the first round.
Harold Bradley coached his team to a 20-8 record. The Blue Devils faced Villanova in the first round and disappointed its fans by falling by only one point in Madison Square Garden.
It was a great achievement to make the tournament but fans would have liked to see them pull it out and move on.
Also, the fashion they lost in was disappointing and left people wondering what could have been.
The final score was 74-73.
1979 Versus Saint John’s
In the 1978-79 season, Bill Foster coached his Duke basketball program to a 22-8 record with a first-round bye.
Almost everyone had big things planned for this Blue Devils squad that was tied for first place in the country.
Then the Red Storm showed up. Eugene Banks led Duke with 24 points, ten rebounds and six assists. Mike Gminski added 16 points and eight rebounds, but Saint John’s weathered the storm and pulled out the victory.
Four players had 10-plus points for the Red Men, and they were able to upset Duke 80-78.
1984 Versus Washington
This is eerily similar to the last slide.
Duke finished the season with a 24-10 record. In their first game for the 1984 NCAA Tournament, they faced Washington.
Once again, they were heavily favored going into this matchup—but someone forgot to tell Washington that.
Detlef Schrempf had a game-high 30 points as the Huskies stormed back from a 43-35 halftime deficit to shock Mark Alarie and the Blue Devils.
Alarie had 20 points and seven rebounds, but it was to no avail as Duke fell—you guessed it—80-78.
1985 Versus Boston College
Exactly a year later and it’s the same story. Duke was in the second round of the tourney and favored, after going 23-8 in the regular season.
In the first round of March Madness they got by Pepperdine, 75-62. In the second round, No. 3 Duke ran into No. 11 Boston College.
Michael Adams had 19 points with four rebounds and four assists. Roger McCready added 20 points for the Eagles en route to the 74-73 whopper of an upset.
Mark Alarie and Tommy Amaker played well, but once again, Duke was ousted early.
1993 Versus California
After this performance, many fans were left wondering, what happened? Duke has just demolished Southern Illinois with a final score of 105-70, and were now ready to face California.
No. 6 California had just squeaked by LSU 66-64, so no one thought much of them. No. 3 Duke was the clear favorite.
Shockingly, Duke decided to give the papers something to write about and were upset 82-77.
Bobby Hurley had a monster game, as he put up 32 points coming off the bench. Grant Hill added 18 more points, but the game was already over.
Jerod Haase, Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray all had huge games for the Golden Bears. Kidd, the future NBA superstar, led the efforts with 11 points and 14 assists.
In the third round, California got wiped out by Kansas, so that just goes to show how disappointing Duke played.
1996 Versus Eastern Michigan
This was not a good Eastern Michigan team. They were ranked No. 9 and Duke was ranked No. 8, but it shouldn’t have been as close as the rankings portrayed it.
After the Eagles upset the Blue Devils, they got embarrassed by Connecticut 95-81.
After one half of play, the score was tied at 26. But that was not the disappointing part. What was disappointing was the second half performance from Duke.
For some reason, it just looked like Duke didn’t want to be there. They were lethargic and only mustered 34 points.
In the meantime, the Eagles posted 49 points, as they successfully took advantage of the poor performance by Duke.
1997 Versus Providence
What an upset!
No. 10 Providence shocked the world that fateful year as they made it all the way to the Elite Eight. That run included a Round of 32 drumming of Duke.
Derrick Brown led the Friars with 33 points and 10 rebounds. The Blue Devils had no answer for him and Austin Croshere, who put up 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Jeff Capel, Trajan Langdon and Steve Wojciechowski disappointed their fans in this colossal upset, but Providence was so great. There was no way to stop the Friars.
2007 Versus VCU
The only good aspect of this game was that Duke kept it close—but it shouldn’t have come down to that. Duke should have won.
They were a sixth seed that could, as always, do damage. VCU was an upstart 11 seed. They were an afterthought. I remember watching this matchup with my father in the waning hours of the evening. That was when I remembered why I love March Maddness.
It was also the first time the name VCU entered my general knowledge. That would prove to be important down the road.
No one predicted VCU to put up a fight, let alone win. Duke, led by Coach K and Greg Paulus, was the perennial powerhouse.
But Eric Maynor and the Rams capitalized on poor play by Duke to pull off the first-round upset of the Blue Devils.
2008 Versus Belmont/West Virginia
2008 was just a disappointing year for Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
In the first round, No. 2 Duke faced No. 15 Belmont and squeaked out a 71-70 victory. They won by a measly point. That is nothing—it could have gone either way. Belmont was not a good squad and Duke disappointed in the first round.
Finally, in the second round their poor play caught up with them, as No. 7 West Virginia dropped 73 on the Blue Devils.
Kyle Singler was only able to muster six points; Nolan Smith put up five. Gerald Henderson did play nicely, putting up 18 points, but the team just couldn’t come together.
2008 is a year that Coach K and all Duke fans would just like to forget.
2012 Versus Lehigh
Speaking of games Duke fans want to forgot, how about this one?
Many experts called it “the greatest upset ever.”
In 2008, a 15 seed came close to knocking out No. 2 Duke. In 2012, it actually happened. Austin Rivers and Duke heavily disappointed throughout the season, but their performance in this one will live on in infamy.
I had a lot of fun writing this article and I hope that you had a lot of fun reading it, even if you are a Duke fan!