ESPN.com's Andy Katz has written an article where he asserts that Duke's run of 9 straight Sweet 16 appearances is so impressive that only John Wooden winning 7 straight NCAA titles and 10 in 11 years at UCLA surpasses it. Katz cites the current level of parity in college basketball as the reason why this streak will not likely be matched in the future. And he could be right, except he conveniently forgot to mention that Dean Smith and North Carolina made 13 straight Sweet 16 appearances from 1981 to 1994. In fact UNC maintained the streak by beating the #1 team(Oklahoma) in the country as a #8 seed in 1990 as well as beating a #5 seed(Alabama) in the 1992 NCAA Tournament as a #4 seed. Duke has never faced a seed higher than #8 in the second round during their vaunted streak.
Now it could be said that the first four years of the streak were easier since they occurred during the years of the 48 team field which required UNC as a higher seed to only win one game to reach the Sweet Sixteen versus the two a team must win now. Of course as Katz points out Duke has been a #1 seed eight of those nine years and since #16 seeds are now 0-88 versus #1 seeds, we can consider that first game a gimmie. The only thing UNC did in those four years was lose a national title game, win a national title game, lose in the Elite Eight, and lose in the Sweet 16 to Indiana. I think that means on average they won more than two games a year in the tournament during that span.
This is classic Mike Krzyzewski worship as practiced by most of the personalities at ESPN. I am not certain how he can, with a straight face, write and post an article lauding Mike Krzyzewski for his streak of Sweet 16 appearances when he is still five years away from surpassing the streak Dean Smith set in the 1980's and early 1990's. Of course Jim Calhoun thinks that UConn reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 9 out of 12 years is pretty swell, but nine straight like Duke is "incredible" Hey Jim, what would think if I told you Dean Smith went to 13 straight Sweet 16's and 15 out of 17 years from 1981-1997. If nine straight is incredible then 13 straight must be downright miraculous.
Maybe I should cut Katz some slack since he only started writing about college basketball in the 1990's about the time the UNC streak ended. Of course he also took the time to research what John Wooden did, you would think he would show some respect and gives some credit to Dean Smith for his accomplishment instead of glossing over 13 years of great tournament consistency in an effort to give Mike Krzyzewski another big pat on the back.
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