ATLANTA — Could Dukes ACC Tournament semifinal loss to Florida State on Saturday have been one of those rare occurrences where a loss was a good thing in the long run?
Perhaps thats the case for the Blue Devils, whose 62-59 loss at least enabled the team to get an extra days rest before beginning the NCAA Tournament on Thursday or Friday.
While the defeat probably means the nationally 6th-ranked Blue Devils (27-6) will not be a regional No. 1 seed, they do get to go home, rest and find out if forward Ryan Kelly (right-foot sprain) can get healthy enough to start in the NCAA.
The Seminoles (23-9) could become a regional No. 3 with a win against UNC (29-4) in Sundays 1 p.m. 59th ACC championship game. If so, it would be a remarkable accomplished for a team that got stopped by Harvard and Princeton of the Ivy League.
That Duke missed Kelly on Saturday is undeniable. The 6-11 junior isnt the most important player for the Devils, he fills a vital role on 3-point shooting and interior rotation.
It hurts us to lose, but at least we lost the right way , Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
He then said Kelly was in a regular shoe.
If we go to Greensboro (opening NCAA game) that gives us till Friday.
In 2009, UNC lost to Florida State in the ACC semis when point guard Ty Lawson had to sit out with a foot injury. The Tar Heels then went to Greensboro to open the NCAA, beat Radford without Lawson in the first game and then escaped LSU in the second game when Lawson returned. From there, the Heels virtually sailed to the NCAA title.
By no stretch is Dukes current team as talented as UNC in 2009, but the recovery time is still the same.
On the flip side, Carolina on Sunday doesnt get a chance to play Duke for a third time but does get a chance to deal with that 90-57 loss to the Seminoles on Jan. 14, the lowest point of the season for the Heels.