6th April 2010
Prior to the 2010 tournament, many media pundits felt that Duke had the easiest bracket of any #1 seed, despite Kansas actually being the top overall seed in the field. If no upsets happened, Duke would have to go through AP #9 Villanova to reach the Final Four; by comparison, Kansas would have to go through #5 Ohio State, Syracuse would have to go through #7 K-State, and Kentucky would have to go through #6 West Virginia.
As the tournament progressed, the only upset that happened along Duke’s path was #3 Baylor reaching the Regional Final instead of Villanova, who had been picked off by Saint Mary’s (CA). This meant that instead of #9 ‘Nova, Duke actually only had to go through the 19th-ranked Bears to reach Indy. Once they reached the Final Four, they found #6 West Virginia waiting for them, and in the Championship Game the Blue Devils had to beat #11 Butler, whom they only topped by 2 when a pair of shots by Gordon Hayward each missed by mere inches. So you can see why some are reacting to Duke’s crown today with criticism that they faced one of the easiest roads to a championship in NCAA history. But is this true? Was Duke’s path to glory really devoid of potholes along the way? And if so, how does 2010 Duke compare to other past champions who had more grueling roads?