The Duke Blue Devils played the VCU Rams Friday night as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis Invitational in the Bahamas. The matchup was the first time Duke had played the former Cinderella team that knocked them out of the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Back in 2007, Duke entered the NCAA Tournament as a six seed after a disappointing 22-11 record. The team was beat by eleventh seeded VCU 79-77 on a last second shot by Eric Maynor. The game was heartbreaking for Duke as they lost to a team that never led the game by more than two points. Maynor put up a jump shot with 1.8 seconds left to secure VCU’s first tournament win since 1985.
The loss by Duke in 2007 marked their first exit during the first round of the tournament since 1996. A streak of nine consecutive sweet 16 appearances was also ended. VCU lost to Pittsburgh in the next round by a score of 84-79.
For VCU, the win had a huge impact on the school’s future. Maynor would become a first round pick in the NBA. Head coach Anthony Grant left for a head coaching job with Alabama University. VCU would go on to be a huge Cinderella team with a trip to the Final Four in 2011.
For the 2012-2013 season, VCU has been added to the Atlantic 10 Conference. An appearance at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, along with healthy competition in the A10 should have VCU competing for a spot in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
While the analysts were already buzzing about a potential matchup between basketball powerhouses Duke and Louisville University, the Blue Devils made sure they put away the team that made them humble back in 2007. VCU got the best of Duke five years ago, and will give trouble to several Atlantic 10 opponents this year. A win by Duke gave fans closure on an upsetting early exit from the NCAA Tournament that Duke has come to love.
Friday’s win was powered by seniors Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. Plumlee contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Curry had 15 points. The team’s victory at the Imperial Arena at Atlantis Resort sets up a top ten matchup with Louisville in Saturday night’s Battle 4 Atlantis Final.