Duke Gonzaga
(Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Third-ranked Gonzaga took down top-ranked Duke on Wednesday night which was the best possible outcome for everyone.

Danny Small

Thank whatever god you believe in. Duke lost. If you’re a Duke hater like me, you’re happy anytime Mike Krzyzewski walks off the court with a sour look on his face. Any Duke loss, whether it’s in November or March, is truly a pleasure to watch.

But if you’re a Duke diehard, this loss is a positive in the long-term. First off, the Duke freshman showed the world that they are more than just elite talents—they’ve got guts. The experienced Gonzaga squad held a double-digit lead for much of the second half, but Duke never let them get out of striking distance.

They pulled to within two with a minute left, but they couldn’t finish the comeback. That being said, they could have easily folded in the second half, but they gave Gonzaga everything they had. They came up short, but a loss in the Maui Invitational is not a bad thing.


In fact, this takes some pressure off of the freshman-laden squad. College basketball media and fans love the narrative of the unbeaten season. This Duke squad is already generating considerable hype because of the freshman triumvirateĀ of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cameron Reddish.

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With a loss, the unbeaten season narrative won’t hang over Durham, North Carolina like a black cloud. Moreover, it brings the freshman team back down to Earth and will prevent them from starting to read their own press clippings. They’ll remember this loss come March and they’ll be a better team for it.

But maybe most of all, we are all lucky that Duke lost because we won’t have to listen to the ridiculous talking heads give credence to the idea that Duke would beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It is such a ridiculous argument that it pains me to even waste time writing about it. Every year it’s the same old story. Could Alabama beat the Browns? Could Kentucky beat the Sixers? This time around, people are asking if Duke could beat the Cavaliers.

They couldn’t. Not even close. It wouldn’t happen.

The Cavs are physically superior and tactically superior in every single way. Of course, Zion Williamson is a freak of nature, but his physicality does not make up for every player up and down the roster. It’s silly that anyone, let alone former NBA players would make the argument that Duke would beat the Cavs.

But luckily, this narrative will die with this loss. Thank God.

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