It might take Duke two days to play Thursday's East Regional semifinal against Villanova. With a 9:57 p.m. tipoff and CBS’ lengthy television timeouts, there’s a good chance a winner won’t be decided until after midnight.
The Blue Devils should be used to this by now. This is Duke’s third game out of the past six that has started at after 9 p.m.
“We have played a couple games like that already, and they were important games, in the ACC tournament and the first round of the NCAA,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “You’d rather not play it. I’d rather play earlier. The fact that we’ve done it in the past two weeks twice, we should be accustomed to it.”
Duke’s quarterfinal matchup with Boston College at the ACC Tournament finally concluded at 11:40 p.m., while Duke’s first-round NCAA game against Binghamton ended 10 minutes later than that. This one will be the latest of all.
And it’s not like the day ends at the final buzzer. Win or lose, it could be another hour or more before the bus even leaves for the hotel, and the adrenaline sticks around longer than that.
“It’s tough to go to bed after those games,” Duke forward Kyle Singler said.
To deal with the long day and late night, Duke will indulge in a longer shootaround Thursday morning, less worried about wasting energy and more concerned about getting out of the hotel.
So far, it seems to be working.
“We’re definitely used to it,” Duke guard Nolan Smith said. “We have a nice plan on that day as to how we stay ready and stay into the game. Some teams can go all day and lose focus that they have a game later that night. But the coaching staff and the players do a great job of talking about the game all day so that our minds stay on it.”