INDIANAPOLIS – This national championship now is Duke's for the taking, and that's not to discredit the heart-warming journey made by long-shot Butler to reach Monday's NCAA Tournament title game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
But based on the way Mike Krzyzewski's team played in Saturday's 78-57 win over West Virginia and throughout the postseason grind, it's difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Devils could be denied at this point.
Rating the performance as Duke's best of the tournament, Krzyzewski said nothing less would have worked.
"We weren't going to beat West Virginia without a great game," Krzyzewski said. "They're just too good a team for that, but we got a great effort. Our defense was outstanding. So was our offensive rebounding. It just was a complete game."
Monday will give Duke a chance to win a fourth national title — second in Indianapolis — and that outcome seems likely.
Aside from having a talent advantage over the Bulldogs (33-4) who pulled out a grueling semifinal win over Michigan State in Saturday's first game, the Blue Devils (34-5) are playing with total abandon.
That's been their personality since returning from a loss at Maryland on March 3 and smashing North Carolina in the final game of the regular season.
Duke long ago earned a high perch on the list of college basketball royalty, but these players have never once allowed themselves to buy into the theory that jerseys win games.
During what is now a nine-game winning streak, the Devils haven't always shot accurately or looked precise. During most of the NCAA, they have been forced to get by on grit, defense and more rebounding production than anyone could have possibly predicted early in the season.
That rebounding again was key against the Big East champion Mountaineers (31-7).