SAN FRANCISCO – Nolan Richardson, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who led the Arkansas Razorbacks to the 1994 national title, has a prediction about Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell tour.
It will end on Saturday, at the Chase Center in the Elite Eight.
That’s when fourth-seeded Arkansas plays the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils, who are not only trying to make it to the Final Four, but also keep their coach’s legendary career alive, with Krzyzewski set to retire at the end. it’s from the season.
“When you look at it with the eye test, when both (teams) are playing to their potential, I think the Razorbacks are three, four, five points better at this point, hopefully due to maturity,” Richardson said Friday during In a phone interview from his home in Fayetteville, Arkansas, he also noted that he also predicted Arkansas would beat top seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 before the Razorbacks did so that Thursday with a 74-68 victory.
Richardson, 80, is clearly enjoying the Arkansas-Duke matchup. In 1994, his Razorbacks beat Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils, 76-72, for the national championship.
“Oh, what a great feeling to wake up in the morning and know that your team has a chance to get to the Final Four and they have to go through Duke to get there and vice versa,” he said. “That has come full (circle).”
Now led by head coach Eric Musselman, the Razorbacks are looking to return to the Final Four for the first time since Richardson ran the program there in 1995.
The legendary coach praised the current Razorbacks.
“I’ve always liked the team, its makeup,” said Richardson, whose 17-year tenure at Arkansas ended in 2002. “I love a team that hangs their hats on their defense. They have done that. And his leadership has improved in each and every game.”
Richardson said he hasn’t been able to see the Razorbacks in person because his wife has been sick and because of the coronavirus pandemic. But he said he has watched every game on television and would occasionally talk to Musselman on the phone.
“To let you know that you’ve done a phenomenal job,” Richardson said. “And I hope that he can continue to take his team to where I know he would love to go and wants to be, and that’s basically the Final Four.
“Then you just flip the coin and see where it lands. Because anyone who goes that far, it could be anyone’s game.”
Richardson, who took Arkansas to the Final Four three times, noted that Krzyzewski has taken Duke there 12 times.
“It should be called Krzyzewski’s Final Four,” he said. “Coach K is one of the top coaches in the country. I see Coach K in that category with John Wooden.”
But he also sees something else: Krzyzewski, on Saturday, directing his last game.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coach K’s run ends Saturday, says former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson