The last time that a university won both men’s and women’s national championships in basketball was back in 2004 when the University of Connecticut pulled off the impressive feat. In fact, it was the first time it had been accomplished in Division I history.
Current NBA players Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor led the men’s team, while the women’s team featured WNBA superstar Diana Taurasi. Considering the unpredictable nature of the NCAA tournament (that’s why they call it March Madness), this should hold up as one of the most impressive accomplishments in the history of college sports.
As we inch closer and closer towards the latter days of March, the Big Dance is on everyone’s mind. And it’s fair to say that Duke may have the best chance of anyone since those Huskies of 2004.
Both the men and women’s Blue Devil squads will have a strong possibility to entering the tournament as top five teams in the nation.
The women’s team stands atop the toughest conference in women’s college basketball this season, the ACC. In fact, this might be the toughest the ACC has been in years with four teams in the top 25.
But Duke has hardly wavered all season with just two losses. While one of those losses was just a four-point slip-up to Miami, it’s the other loss that will have some doubting the Blue Devils chances of cutting down the nets this year. Back on January 21st Duke lost to the #3 ranked UConn Huskies. But they didn’t just lose. They lost by 30 points.
It’s worth noting, however, that Duke has won 16 straight coming into that game and followed it up by winning 10 straight. The real question is how far Duke will be able to go without their assist leader, point guard Chelsea Gray who dislocated her kneecap towards the end of February.
On the Men’s side of things, Duke blew through their non-conference schedule without any slip-ups and only have a few losses on the season. They experienced their first turmoil of the year when arguably their best player Ryan Kelly suffered a foot injury in January.
The Blue Devils weathered the storm the best they could through the sharp shooting of Seth Curry and the interior presence of Mason Plumlee.
While Kelly the diagnosis projected to Kelly to be back well before the tournament, Duke fans may remember a few years ago when the Blue Devils brought back star player Kyrie Irving from an injury only to have their chemistry go into a slump and ultimately stumble in the postseason.
However, on Kelly’s first game back, he showed that he was more than ready to fit right in. Kelly scored 36 points in a 79-76 win over #5 ranked Miami despite not having played for nearly two months.
With Kelly healthy and one of the most potent offenses in the country, the Blue Devils will be many experts’ favorites to win the whole thing.
Managing to win the National Championships in Men and Women’s basketball in the same year is something like catching lightning in a bottle. Both teams have to go through perhaps the most competitive postseasons in sports and can’t afford to lose a single game.
But if anybody’s poised to do it this year it’s the teams that reside in Durham, North Carolina. The Duke Blue Devils.