GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 10: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts during the first half of their second round game against the Louisville Cardinals in the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 10, 2021 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

A positive COVID-19 test has ended the ACC Tournament run for the Duke men’s basketball team, and likely ended the unusual 2021 season for the Blue Devils.

“We will not continue competing in the 2021 ACC Tournament due to our school’s and conference’s health/safety protocols,” the program announced Thursday. “The determination was made following the positive COVID-19 test for a member of our program’s Tier 1 personnel after Wednesday’s game.”

Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team has struggled this year, and was considered on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament, according to many in the sports media world. And that reality seemed to not be lost on Coach K, as he spoke about the team’s 13-11 record. The missed NCAA Tournament this year ends a streak of 24 straight years playing for a shot at the championship for the Blue Devils.

“While our season was different than any other that I can remember, I loved the 2020-21 Duke Basketball team and was honored to be their coach,” Krzyzewski said. “We have not asked more of any team in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men they are.”

Duke had won its first two games in the ACC tournament, defeating Boston College and Louisville in the first two rounds. The Blue Devils were set to face Florida State Thursday night. With the forfeit, the Seminoles automatically moved on to the semifinals of the tournament being held in Greensboro.

There were high hopes for the Blue Devils this year, as they were projected to finish second in the conference, behind only Virginia. But the season played out very differently, as Duke finished 10th in the ACC, struggling to ever get consistency.

The disappointing end to the season comes on the one year anniversary of the beginning of a major national lockdown. The ACC Tournament was suspended the morning of March 12, 2021, just hours after the NBA and others had halted their seasons rather dramatically.

Duke President Kevin White said this was the first time the program had a positive test, and confirmed it would end the Blue Devils’ season.

“Unfortunately, after going an entire season with no positive COVID-19 tests among our men’s basketball student-athletes and coaching staff, one member of our program tested positive following Wednesday’s ACC Tournament game in Greensboro,” White said. “After working with our medical professionals and following Duke and ACC Medical Advisory Group health, safety, and contact tracing protocols, the student-athletes on our team are now in quarantine. Since last March when the pandemic started, we have listened to our medical experts and always put safety at the forefront of any determinations regarding competition. As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season. We wish every team still playing college basketball good health and the very best during the next few weeks.”


Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.

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