At Louisville on Tuesday night, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski directed the largest second-half comeback win of his career, but where does it rank among the sweetest of all his comeback wins?
Blowout victories by any Duke basketball team are always fun and never stressful. However, they do little to paint a picture of a squad’s perseverance. And while they are demoralizing to the opponent, lopsided victories don’t provide that extra dose of delight to Blue Devil fans that comes from knowing the win ripped the hearts out of opposing fans, at least not to the same extent as another type of win:
The comeback win.
These are the wins that leave Duke fans with the sweet taste they crave. The level of sweetness is directly proportional to the level of stress endured along the way, though, and depends on several factors:
- The deficit the team had to overcome
- The amount of time that was left when the comeback began
- The drama of the final seconds
- The name of the opponent that was left in stunned silence
- The arena in which the comeback took place
- The stakes — in other words, the month the win occurred
But there is another factor, one that varies from one fan to the next and ultimately matters the most; this factor is best defined as the staying power that the win has within a fan’s memory bank.
So my favorite memories may be different from yours. No problem. The following is my ranking of the five sweetest comeback wins by the Blue Devils since Mike Krzyzewski took over as coach 39 years ago. They are the ones I’ll never forget, due to how much they warmed my heart, how proud they made me feel to be a Duke fan, and how many days they left me so giddy that it interfered with my sleep.