CHARLOTTE -- Well, that was a tidy day’s work for the Duke Blue Devils.
With a comforting lack of drama, the top-seeded Blue Devils manhandled Hampton 87-45 today in their opening NCAA tournament game at Time Warner Cable Arena.
It was noteworthy for its efficient workmanship, the return of Kyrie Irving and the fact it moves coach Mike Krzyzewki within three victories of tying his mentor Bob Knight for the most wins ever by a Division I hoops coach.
It’s going to happen. If the Blue Devils keep rolling, Coach K can tie Knight’s record 902 wins with a West Region finals victory in Anaheim, Cal. If not, it can wait until next season.
But there’s no reason to think these Blue Devils will go away any time soon. Hampton couldn’t hang with Duke and the tests will get increasingly tougher but the Blue Devils look like a team that likes where it is and who it is.
With Irving back, the look of this NCAA tournament has changed. Him blending back into the rotation Friday was a nice start. It likely will only get better but his 14 points came with remarkable ease.
The moment Duke fans were waiting for came with just over five minutes remaining. That’s when Irving was in full flight, skating downcourt, blowing by everyone until there was nothing left but an open basket and an easy layup.
It was just a moment – he had a handful of others -- but it was a suggestion of what could be as this March unfolds.
The Blue Devils will get a more significant test Sunday from Michigan, which had no more trouble with Tennessee than George Clooney might have getting dates. The Wolverines are solid and coach John Beilein will make Duke earn whatever it gets.
Near the end of the Wolverines’ victory, the Michigan section of fans began chanting, "We Want Duke."
Not all of them chanted but some did.
They’ll get the Blue Devils now.