The top five ‘what if’ Duke basketball seasons of all time

Duke basketball (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Duke basketball
The 2003-04 Duke basketball team (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

13-3 ACC. 2003-04 Blue Devils. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 31-6 overall. 4. player. 434


THE RESULT: Lost in National Semifinal to Connecticut

Josh freakin’ Boone. In Chris Duhon’s final game, JJ Redick and the “Landlord” Shelden Williams were uber-skilled sophomores, Luol Deng was a crazy talented one-and-done, and the thing that keeps UConn in contention is Josh Boone.

I should explain this one. Duke and UConn entered this game as the two best teams in the country, and the game reflected it. UConn superstar Emeka Okafor got into foul trouble very early, and Duke looked in danger of pulling away several times.

On a team with future NBA mainstays like the aforementioned Okafor in addition to Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, the man who made several clutch points and rebounds throughout the first half was unheralded big man Josh Boone.

Even with Boone’s efforts, Duke played a solid 36 minutes of basketball and held an eight-point lead heading into the final four minutes of the game. Shelden Williams, Shavlik Randolph, and Nick Horvath (all of Duke’s centers, in other words) had fouled out of the game, and Okafor managed to stay in the game and started to dominate inside with no one to stop him. The Huskies went on to pull off the 79-78 win and earned a title victory two nights later against Georgia Tech.

This Duke team is ranked No. 4 here only because of who the Blue Devils lost to. Even with all the talent and notable Brotherhood members on that team, Connecticut was probably the better team, but that doesn’t make the collapse down the stretch any easier to swallow.