Duke basketball: Coach K responds to humbling NIT question

Duke basketball (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball needs some victories to steer clear of further NIT chatter.

Heading into Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. tipoff at home against Notre Dame (7-10, 4-7 ACC), the Duke basketball squad (7-7, 5-5 ACC) is on the cusp of a losing record. A defeat at the hands of the Fighting Irish would mark the first time these Blue Devils have dipped to such an embarrassing low. Moreover, bear in mind that the program hasn’t sat below .500 in February since 1995.

Unfamiliar territory, indeed.

Not only does the putrid résumé put Duke’s NCAA Tournament streak in serious jeopardy — would currently be 25 straight Big Dance appearances had there been one last year — but it also has the freshman-laden bunch in Durham on the National Invitation Tournament bubble.

However, the NIT technically did away with its .500-record requirement. Therefore, even without a drastic improvement in the win column, it does seem the Blue Devils are likely to at least see the option to partake in some “Not In Tournament” postseason action, if only for ratings’ sake.

Duke basketball chief on NIT possibilities

Would five-time national champion Mike Krzyzewski, the game’s all-time wins leader whose last trip to the Small Dance came as a first-year Duke basketball head coach in 1981, accept a lowly NIT invite?

Well, speaking to media on Monday, the 73-year-old Hall of Famer gave his answer to what was a humbling yet completely fair question at this juncture:

“We’ll just get ready for Notre Dame. I think, to plan ahead during this season is not a good idea, and also, just to keep your eyes on the road and just try to be as good as you possibly can be. To be quite frank with you, we have not talked about that with our team. So we’ll consider whatever. I just hope we have our ACC Tournament…I’m all for the ACC Tournament.”

Winning that, of course, might be the only way for Coach K to avoid the dreaded NIT decision come March.

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