Sports: Final Four winners and losers: UNC and first-year coach Hubert Davis riding high; Duke and Coach K face cruel exit

Coach K's legacy beyond Duke includes a coaching tree that is still growing

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No. 1 Kansas beat No. 2 Villanova 81-65 behind a share-the-wealth offensive approach that wobbled one of the top defenses in the country.

But that was just the undercard to the main event: No. 2 Duke and No. 8 North Carolina in the first meeting between the two rivals in men's NCAA Tournament history.

The second national semifinal at the Final Four met the hype and then some.

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In an instant classic, the Tar Heels pulled off an 81-77 win that will echo in the history of this series and college basketball at large.

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If not the happiest way for him to go out — losing to UNC is a particularly cruel touch — that the final game of Mike Krzyzewski's tenure will go down in history is a fitting way to conclude a historic coaching career.

Mike Krzyzewski reacts during the first half against North Carolina in the Final Four. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports Mike Krzyzewski reacts during the first half against North Carolina in the Final Four.

Duke, Krzyzewski and UNC lead Saturday's winners and losers from the Final Four.

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WINNERS

North Carolina

UNC gets the last laugh against Krzyzewski, and here's guessing a few thousand of the faithful will be laughing until the early morning in New Orleans. (And a few hundred thousand more will do the same back in North Carolina.) The Tar Heels were led by guard Caleb Love, who started slow but ended with 28 points; he's passed the 20-point mark three times in tournament play. UNC also drew another outstanding game from forward Armando Bacot, who scored 11 points and pulled down 21 rebounds, 13 coming on the offensive glass.

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Hubert Davis

Once 12-6 overall and mired in an ugly start to ACC play, the Tar Heels have lost just three times since and are a win from a memorable national championship. With little fanfare, Davis has made all the right moves in the second half of his first season and remained composed as a starting five rallied to become one of the best units in the country. With some top-ranked recruiting classes on the way, Davis has taken the mantle from his predecessor, Roy Williams, and put UNC back near the top of the sport.

Kansas

The Jayhawks flipped a switch at halftime of the Elite Eight against Miami (Fla.) and have not looked back. Once down by a handful against the Hurricanes, Kansas dominated the second half and then carried that into Saturday night’s win against Villanova to reach the national championship game for the third time under coach Bill Self. Led by David McCormack’s game-high 25 points, KU had four players in double figures and tore threw a Villanova defense that ranked among the nation’s best. The Jayhawks shot 53.7% from the field and 54.2% from 3-point range (13-of-24).

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Bill Self

How's this for a possible scene: Self, who has spent the past three seasons with his program under investigation for alleged recruiting violations, accepting the national championship from NCAA president Mark Emmert. That's something the NCAA would like to avoid, you'd think. This possible awkwardness aside, with KU reaching the championship game for the first time since 2012 and the favorite to win it all for the first time since 2008, this tournament run has served as a reminder of Self's place among the top coaches in the country.

Ochai Agbaji

The senior has rebounded from his quietest game of the year in the Jayhawks' win against Providence in the Sweet 16 with back-to-back impactful performances. He may have scored a season-low five points against the Friars — he did chip in four blocks and two steals — but Agbaji dropped 18 points against Miami and then was on fire against the Wildcats, with 21 points on 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.

LOSERS

Duke

Losing to UNC is a cruel way to end one of the top careers by a coach in the sport's history. Could it have gone the other way? As in the loss to UNC at home earlier in March, the Blue Devils had opportunities to put the Tar Heels in a hole during the final minutes of the first half and the start of the second. Having failed to do so, the Blue Devils had to be perfect to combat the Tar Heels' outside shooting and physicality in chasing down second-chance points. Duke was undone by a poor job from deep (5-of-22, or just 22.7%) and misses from the line (12-of-20). There's also a matter of those bragging rights, which will be in the Tar Heels' possession for the foreseeable future.

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Villanova

As expected, the Wildcats sorely missed guard Justin Moore, who suffered an Achilles injury in the final minute of an Elite Eight win against Houston. Villanova was not the same on offense, with less ball movement, less penetration and no player capable of consistently beating the Jayhawks' backcourt to the basket for easy looks or to kick out to teammates for open jumpers. The way KU scored with ease on the other end speaks for itself; the Wildcats are one team with Moore — a team good enough to go all the way — but another with him on the bench. That makes this a disappointing ending to an otherwise strong season for one of college basketball's elite programs.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Final Four winners and losers: UNC and first-year coach Hubert Davis riding high; Duke and Coach K face cruel exit

It's Jon Scheyer's time to lead Duke men's basketball. He's ready for the challenge .
Jon Scheyer is the first new Duke men's basketball coach since 1980 with Mike Krzyzewski retiring. It's a job he's ready to handle.“Coach K’s humor sort of surprises people,” said Collins, head coach at Northwestern for the last nine years and a 13-year assistant for Krzyzewski. “He’d always say to players that he was a true inner city Chicagoian, then say about me: ‘He’s not from real Chicago. He’s from the suburbs.’ Then he’d talk about knowing all these city streets and shortcuts. That same joke he’d use with me, he’d use with Jon.

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