The five greatest Duke basketball tournament games to rewatch

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball’s 2010 national champs (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

61. 434. 59. 472. Final

3. 2010 National Championship vs. Butler

Gordon Hayward…too close, buddy, too close. This is another one the Air Force stole from me as I was forced to watch the replay. But once I did, I was on the edge of my seat pretty much start to finish.

Butler entered that game dubbed the “Real Life Hoosiers.” And I get it. As annoying as it was to hear that narrative and listen to the “Hoosiers” theme music get played cutting to commercials, the Bulldogs truly were a remarkable story.

Brad Stevens, who some consider a darkhorse candidate to replace Coach K one day, got his superstar Gordon Hayward to lead a scrappy squad to the title game. Once there, they showed exactly what got them there. To this day, I have yet to see perimeter defense played the way the Bulldogs did it.

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The relentless motors and lighting-quick hands of Hayward, Shelvin Mack, and Ronald Nored led to a close game where neither team led by more than six.

Duke basketball legend Kyle Singler was absolutely clutch with a team-high 19 points and a solid 3-for-6 from the perimeter. Brian Zoubek also chose the perfect time to have his best game of the season and provided the crucial shot alteration and rebound with 3.6 seconds left.

The ending defines this game, though, as Hayward took Zoubek’s intentionally missed free throw to halfcourt for a prayer that went off the backboard and touched every part of the rim before bouncing out with no time left. Butler deserved to win that game, but Duke was smiled upon by the basketball gods that day en route to the program’s fourth banner.