Duke Basketball will likely not be involved in March Madness this year. On Thursday morning, the Blue Devils announced they have pulled out of the ACC Tournament due to a positive COVID-19 case within the program. Duke was scheduled to play Florida State on Thursday evening.
"Since last March when the pandemic started, we have listened to our medical experts and always put safety at the forefront of any determinations regarding competition," Duke athletics director Kevin White said in a statement. As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season. We wish every team still playing college basketball good health and the very best during the next few weeks."
Duke was considered a bubble team to make the NCAA Tournament as they needed one or two wins to secure a spot, according to USA Today. The Blue Devils haven't missed the tournament since 1995. Mike Krzyzewski, the longtime Duke coach, said he loved coaching the players this season despite the circumstances.
"While our season was different than any other that I can remember, I loved the 2020-21 Duke Basketball team and was honored to be their coach," he said in a statement. "We have not asked more of any team in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men they are. I feel deeply for our players, who have done a terrific job all season in taking care of each other and the team. I am extremely proud of their collective attitudes and effort, which could not have been stronger." Duke won its first two games in the ACC Tournament, taking down Boston College and Louisville. The Blue Devils finished the season with a 13-11 overall record with a 9-9 record in ACC play.
Duke sitting out the NCAA Tournament is not normal, as mentioned earlier. The team has only missed the tournament once since 1984 and has made itself one of the elite teams in the sports thanks to Krzyzewski, who has been the coach since 1980. Under Krzyzewski's watch, Duke has won 15 ACC Tournament Championships. The team has appeared in the Final Four 12 times and has appeared in the championship game nine times while winning five of those games. Overall, Duke has appeared in the championship game 11 times and their five title wins are tied with Indiana for fourth all-time behind UCLA, Kentucky and North Carolina.