Duke’s quest for a national championship came to an end on Sunday, as Michigan State outlasted the Blue Devils 68-67. The biggest story in college basketball since November, Duke fell short of the Final Four. What happened? And what’s next?
Zion’s college career is likely over
That’s probably the last we’ll see of Zion Williamson in college basketball. The heavy favorite to go No. 1 in the NBA draft, Williamson hasn’t officially declared his intentions, but it would be the stunner of stunners if Williamson returned to Durham for his sophomore season. He came into college as a viral star, a top-three prospect and one of the candidates to go No. 1 in the draft. If he leaves, he leaves as one of the most unique players to come through college basketball in decades — and the clear-cut best player in the country. We might not see another player like Williamson for some time.
Zion doesn’t get one of the final three shots
If you had flashbacks to Duke’s loss to Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational down the stretch, you weren’t alone. In that game, RJ Barrett took charge down the stretch, and Williamson barely touched the ball late in the game. Duke lost. On Sunday, Barrett took the shot on Duke’s final three possessions, despite Williamson’s dominating at the rim throughout the game. Zion finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, using his athleticism and physicality to power through the paint. Barrett hit three 3-pointers but struggled to finish in the paint for most of the game. He missed a leaner in the lane with 50 seconds left, then missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, then got fouled on a drive with about five seconds left. Williamson’s last shot came with 1:41 remaining.
Cassius Winston is the best winner in college basketball
Is Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston the most athletic or the quickest player in the country? No. Is he the best shooter? Probably not. But there might not be a better leader or winner in college basketball than Winston. He has taken a team that lost Joshua Langford to injury earlier this season, a team that lost Kyle Ahrens to injury recently, a team that has had a hampered Nick Ward for most of the past month — and carried them to the Final Four. He finished with 20 points and 10 assists against Duke on Sunday, and every time the Spartans needed a basket to stop a run or extend a lead, he was there to score. It’s almost impossible to bet against him at this point.
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SOURCE: ESPN, Jeff Borzello