PHILADELPHIA -- Duke is not used to being overshadowed regardless of day or location. They are the Blue Devils, after all, coached by the winningest man in the history of major college basketball, which makes them the biggest deal in the arena each time they enter.
Except for the past three days.
Everybody here has been all Florida Gulf Coast all the time.
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So this must've been weird, right?
"Yeah, it has been," Duke's Mason Plumlee said with a smile. "[Florida Gulf Coast] is a great story. Somebody told me the college has only been around like 10 years."
I told Plumlee FGCU started in 1997.
"Oh wow," Plumlee said. "They came up quick, huh?"
So, yeah, even the Blue Devils are fascinated by Florida Gulf Coast's emergence and running and dunking style. But that didn't keep them from handling things nicely in their two games at the Wells Fargo Center, case you didn't notice. Duke had few issues with Albany early Friday, then beat Creighton 66-50 late Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16.
"My kids played really hard and well together," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is in the Sweet 16 for the 13th time in the past 16 seasons. "I'm really proud of them."
As he should be.
The Blue Devils executed a brilliant game plan that can best be described as one rooted in the desire to make anybody other than Creighton's Doug McDermott beat them. It worked. The CBSSports.com First Team All-American took 16 shots, missed 12 and finished with 21 points only because he sank all 12 of his free throw attempts. That was the result of Duke literally switching every screen to make things nearly impossible for McDermott.
"My guess is Duke didn't switch every screen on any other player all year long -- at least I know they didn't in the films I watched," said Creighton coach Greg McDermott. "I think that's the ultimate level of respect. They didn't let him come off anything."
McDermott fouled out with 37 seconds remaining.
He walked to the sideline slowly.
He hugged his coach/father.
It's now fair to wonder if he'll ever do that again in a Creighton uniform.
The 6-foot-8 forward is considered a borderline first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft based on, among other things, his ability to shoot the ball at his height. McDermott made 50 percent of his 3-point attempts this season. And though he talked after this loss about next season's move to the Big East and how much fun it would be to play in a new league that'll hold its conference tournament inside New York's Madison Square Garden, McDermott acknowledged he's torn about whether to return to school or enter the draft and probably not close to making a firm decision, one way or another.
"I think it's just going to hit me at some moment," McDermott said. "I'll just be like, 'This is what I'm gonna do.' But it's still up in the air. I have no idea what I'm going to do."
I asked McDermott if this projects as a more difficult decision because he wouldn't just be leaving college. He would be leaving his father's program, one that relies on him heavily.
"Yeah, McDermott said. "Definitely."
Can you imagine what that must be like?
These decisions -- to stay in college or become a professional -- are almost always difficult and stressful, but McDermott's is also complicated. A return to Creighton would provide his father with an All-American to play through and help ease the transition to the Big East. But an exit from school could cost the Bluejays several slots in the league standings and, possibly, the opportunity to play in a third consecutive NCAA tournament.
So this isn't just a big decision for Doug McDermott.
It's also a big decision for Creighton.
Which means it's also a big decision for Greg McDermott.
"I have a responsibility to Doug, as his coach, to do the research and provide the information he needs to make an educated decision," Greg McDermott said. "But when he needs somebody to talk to about it; he can't be talking to his coach. He needs to be talking to his father. So at the end of the day, his mother and I, we're just going to provide advice and listen to him, but he's going to make the decision. ... He's done a lot of great things for Omaha and for this program, and he's earned the right to make this decision."