It's ironic that Duke spent five seasons living-and-dying by the 3-pointer and couldn't get to the Final Four.
Now that the Blue Devils are at the Final Four, because of their ability to defend and find other sources of offense besides the 3, their fate against West Virginia on Saturday in the national semifinals rests on ... you guessed it ... the 3-pointer.
The team that's most successful from the 3-point line will win Saturday. That's not going to be easy either way.
West Virginia beat Kentucky because of the 3. The Mountaineers hit 10, half of their field goals, and forced the Wildcats to go 4-for-32, including misses on the first 20 attempts.
For the tournament, WVU, which uses both a 1-3-1 zone and a man defense, has held four opponents to 20.5 percent (17-of-83) from the 3-point line.
Meanwhile, Duke led the country in 3-point defense (27 percent) during the regular season and held Baylor — like WVU, a long, athletic team that had the ability to shoot over Duke's perimeter defenders — to 5-of-18 from 3.
The Devils also got a combined nine 3s from Jon Scheyer (five) and Nolan Smith (four), which offset an 0-for-5 effort from Kyle Singler.
Mike Krzyzewski has done a superb job of keeping his team focused on the task at hand, and not dwelling on the postseason failures since 2005, but it's worth going back to the third-round loss to Villanova from last March.
The Wildcats, another Big East team that plays a 1-3-1 zone, held Duke to 5-of-27 from 3, with Scheyer going 2-for-10.
Up until this point, Duke has not necessarily needed the 3 to win (defense, rebounding and free throws have been enough). Going forward, the Blue Devils can't win without it.