They've already played what many in college basketball agree was the greatest game ever. Kentucky and Duke say the worst thing they could do Sunday is try to play the second greatest.
Six years after Christian Laettner's shot gave Duke a breathtaking 104-103 victory and a trip to the Final Four, the two superpowers finally meet again in the NCAA tournament.Maybe it won't be as good as 1992. But then, how many games have been?
"Is Christian Laettner going to play for us? Is Jamal Mashburn going to play for them? Everybody remembers the game, it was a great game with big play after big play," Duke point guard Steve Wojciechowski said Saturday. "But how does it affect this game? Not much. We're two great teams in our own right, and this will be a great game for college basketball."
Perhaps the only surprise is that the NCAA tournament committee arranged to have it played in the South Regional final rather than the Final Four in San Antonio.
No. 1 seed Duke (32-3) was top-ranked nationally until losing twice to North Carolina, yet No. 2 seed Kentucky (32-4) looks to be the hottest team around, winning 10 in a row by an average of 21 points. The Wildcats have won their three NCAA games by a combined 68 points.
"They're destroying people," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They've had an amazing season, but what they're doing now is impressive."
Latest example: Kentucky's 94-68 blowout Friday of 11-time national champion UCLA, a game so one-sided that the Wildcats' estimated 8,000 fans sat on their hands most of the second half. No doubt they were looking ahead to Duke, which already had beaten Syracuse 80-67.
To college basketball's most dedicated, die-hard fandom - some actually drove 6,000 miles one-way to see the 'Cats play in the Great Alaska Shootout - it was much more pleasant than looking back on Duke. To '92. To the game they can't forget.