Duke basketball season ends in agonizing fashion

Duke basketball center Mark Williams (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball center Mark Williams (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball season has come to an end in the most brutal way possible. 

You could not draw up a worse end to the Duke basketball season if you tried.

Not only did North Carolina win the regular-season finale in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but the Tar Heels also sent the Blue Devils home for good in the Final Four, 81-77.

The ending of the legendary career of Mike Krzyzewski.

However, the game was an instant classic. It exceeded the week-long hype.

There were 18 lead changes, and there was no lead bigger than seven points in the game.

Duke had its chances to extend its lead or retake the lead at the end of the game but could not capitalize on the moment.

The Blue Devils were 12-of-20 from the free throw line and 5-of-22 from 3-point range.

Mark Williams missed a pair of free throws with 44.6 seconds left that could have put Duke back in front by a point, but North Carolina capitalized on the misses with a dagger 3-pointer from Caleb Love to put the Tar Heels up by four.

Trevor Keels split a pair of free throws with 10.7 seconds remaining, which would have brought the Blue Devils within one. But the margin was only cut to two, and the Heels ended the game at the free throw line with two makes from Love.

North Carolina advances to the National Championship to play the Kansas Jayhawks on Monday night.

Duke basketball needs time to recover

The loss to North Carolina on this stage will sting for a long time. It will be talked about and remembered for the rest of eternity.

It still remains unclear when Jon Scheyer officially becomes the head coach of the program. Not only does he have massive shoes to fill, but he will also have to quickly remake the Duke roster as there is sure to be plenty of turnover going into next season.

The Blue Devils will have the No.1 recruiting class entering the 2022-23 season.