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) /
5 of 8
Duke basketball
Duke basketball legend Danny Ferry (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

9-5 ACC. 1988-89 Blue Devils. player. 434. Pick Analysis. Scouting Report. 28-8 overall. 3


THE RESULT: Lost in National Semifinal to Seton Hall

First, no disrespect to Seton Hall or Michigan that year. They were fine teams, but let’s be really real here. A Duke basketball team led by seniors Danny Ferry and Quin Snyder — not to mention Phil Henderson and Alaa Abdelnaby plus freshman versions of Christian Laettner and Brian Davis — was the overwhelming favorite.

Early in the game, it certainly appeared to be going in that direction as Duke stormed out to an 18-point lead. Danny Ferry was the Naismith Player of the Year and a First Team All-American and showed no signs of slowing down. The man is credited with being the mentor to Christian Laettner and showed him the toughness required to make it big in college basketball.

However, all the talent and toughness were no match for Seton Hall as the Pirates, led by Big East Coach of the Year PJ Carlesimo, found their stroke and ended up going on a gargantuan run.  Seton Hall won by a final of 95-78 and sent Ferry and the Devils back to Durham in shock.

The Duke basketball program would, of course, go on to the National Championship Game the following year, led by freshman guard Bobby Hurley and Laettner. The Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV absolutely decimated those Blue Devils, though, and that makes ’89 way more of a “what if” than ’90. Duke never had a prayer in that 1990 title game. Now, fast-forward a few years…