Here’s why this former big-time coach thinks Duke will win it all

Pete Gillen, who coached Providence to the Elite Eight and guided Xavier and Virginia to the NCAA tournament, is a collegiate basketball analyst for CBS Sports Network.

He appears in NCAA March Madness 360 and NCAA March Madness Bracket Breakdown throughout the tournament. As Steve Serby was told by The Post:

It’s Coach K’s world, and we’re just traversing it.

last four

Duke over North Carolina: The elite of elite rivalries. Dean Smith was the king, and then suddenly he had someone challenging his kingdom a little. Coach K slowly started to rise and rise, now he has certainly equaled, maybe even slightly surpassed, Dean’s huge success. Young Coach K was very intense, he made coffee nervous, very intelligent guy, had great discipline after going to West Point, he was great communicator, he could recruit players. He got used to the game, he didn’t recruit the one-and-dones, then suddenly he got the best of the one-and-dones. Some people don’t adjust. He is Mr Adjustable.

This could be the best game of the NCAA tournament.

Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski is in his final season after decades of coaching. His final season could also be a winning lap if he and Duke win it all this year.
Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski is in his final season after decades of coaching.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Duke has the best player on the field and the best coach in Paolo Banchero. Duke has five players who can get their own shot, and they can hurt you with dribbles all the way to the basket. Center Mark Williams can get Armando Bacot in trouble. And Duke has an excellent backup center in Theo John, a transfer from Marquette.

Coach K does a great job shuffling his 2-3 zone defense as a tempo change, throwing North Carolina off the beat and slowing down guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis. The Duke Zone cheats on Brady Manek, the Tar Heels’ best 3-point shooter. AJ Griffin can hurt you on all three levels. Banchero takes over the game and scores 25 points, showing why he could be the first overall pick in the NBA draft.

Duke 86, North Carolina 82

Kansas via Villanova: Kansas is my only remaining pick for the Final Four. So I fired my advisor Madame Zorba and went back to my roots deep in Brooklyn and spoke to The Crew – Batman, Bullhead, Three-Fingered Willie, Ice, Slice, Dice and Mice – they were the cheerleaders. I know I hit those picks

The loss of Justin Moore is a big blow for Villanova. Something has to back down in this game as Kansas plays an uptempo style with tremendous switching play and Villanova plays a stingy defense.

Ochai Agbaji is the best player on the pitch. He’s not getting as many shots as usual but is scoring inside and out. He will get his points. Remy Martin slows Collin Gillespie and holds him to 12 points.

Villanova can’t run with Kansas. A Bloody Nose Lane game. Moore could give Gillespie a break. Villanova must try to lull the Jayhawks to sleep and get them into a half-court game. But the Jayhawks’ two-man center, David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot, wounded Villanova deeply. If the Jayhawks rebound Villanova’s misses, they’ll fly up the court, so the Wildcats’ fast break D is crucial to keeping the game closed.

Kansas 44, Villanova 42

championship game

Duke over Kansas: Jeremy Roach is a so-called weak link for Duke, but he’s played great in the big games. When your point guard plays well, you play well, and Roach plays as well as he can. Too quick and talented for anyone on the Kansas front court, Banchero scores inside and outside and controls the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Williams trumps McCormack and Lightfoot for strength and athleticism, and controls the color with his defense.

Agbaji scores 25 points but doesn’t get enough help. Martin is slowed down by Coach K in a 2-3 zone, forcing shots and scoring just 12 points. The Blue Devils have five players in double figures. They are no longer freshmen, they are more mature.

I think Jon Scheyer will do a good job. He learned from the master, played for the master. He will have an abundance of riches. Just don’t mess it up. It’s nice when you have the horses, you get to go to a lot of Kentucky Derbies, right? I think Coach K will give him some advice and he will listen.

Roy Rogers rode into the sunset in an old cowboy movie. Happy trails to Coach K as he retires.

Duke 78, Kansas 72

And now a quick note on Shaheen Holloway and Saint Peter’s. Holloway will be perfect at Seton Hall. Kevin Willard has done an excellent, excellent job, I think he will continue this tradition and even build on it.

As for Saint Peter’s, hats off to a little Catholic school in Jersey City, to all the players and coaches. The ball on the ground in a playground, a little boy wants the ball and he grabs it, a little boy had to have it. They have made their way. North Carolina was too big, and Davis and Love didn’t mind their pressure. Here’s why this former big-time coach thinks Duke will win it all


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