Coach K put on the hot dog suit earlier this week when he looked around and noticed that his Duke Blue Devils were under a lot of pressure to send him out a winner in his finale season. After trouncing Cal State Fullerton and surviving a very game Michigan State team in Greenville, his second-seeded team stocked to the rafters with NBA-ready talent faces Texas Tech and a suffocating, unique defense later tonight in San Francisco. Oddsmakers are predicting a nail-biter and there's a realistic chance the greatest college basketball coach plays out his final chapter through 40 frustrating minutes.
Better analysts can dissect this one from their angles of expertise. But here's what I can tell you, as a Feel Guy: It just doesn't feel like this will be Coach K's last dance. Bowing out short of expectations to a non-traditional side with an opposing coach in Mark Adams that most couldn't pick out of a lineup near midnight on a school night is bad Hollywood.
The winner of Arkansas-Gonzaga looms on Saturday. Falling to Chet Holmgren, Drew Timme and the little program that could feels like an appropriate ending. So does a Final Four ouster at the hand of North Carolina. Or to a blueblood like Arizona or Michigan in the national title game. Of course, so too does Duke wining it all.
Sports are unpredictable and that's why we love them. Success is earned, not given and there are plenty of basketball reasons Coach K's magical ride could reach its final destination tonight after America goes to bed. His swansong could be relegated to phoned-in Friday highlights and debates.
I've been wrong before and will be wrong again. Just cautioning those salivating for the end of the road to grab a few snacks for the road and to calibrate expectations.