Duke was dominant for most of the regular season before hitting a pair of roadblocks late in the year.

A stunning loss to North Carolina in the regular season finale spoiled Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game. Then, a week later, Duke lost a shocker to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament final.

Both setbacks were surprising, given Duke had already beaten each of those teams by double-digits earlier in the year. But despite those losses, Duke has been able to recover just in time to make one last run under Krzyzewski.

“Towards the end of the season we came off the heartbreaking loss to Carolina,” junior Wendell Moore said on Thursday afternoon. “We played a couple of okay games in the ACC Tournament. Had a tough loss in the championship.

“And from there we’ve kind of treated it as new season. Came here, had to get refreshed. And we really just started from the bottom. We had three, four days of hard practice we haven’t had in a while. A chance for us to go 5-on-5 against our guys in practice. That’s good bump, for real. We get a chance to do that. We just got better that week. Now we’re here.”

Duke’s path to the Final Four wasn’t easy, either. After beating Cal State Fullerton in the first round, Duke had to face Tom Izzo and Michigan State in the Round of 32. Then, the Blue Devils were underdogs against Texas Tech and Sweet 16 and faced a strong Arkansas team in the Elite Eight.

But through all those challenges, Duke was always able to turn up the intensity in the final minutes. Moore and the Blue Devils are banking on that experience providing a big boost this weekend in New Orleans.

“We had four tough games leading up to this that prepared us for this moment,” Moore said. “Each game I do feel we got better. We got more confident. These games, somebody new stepped up. So we keep having things like that, I think we’re going to be fine going forward.”

Duke and North Carolina will tipoff shortly after Villanova-Kansas on Saturday night.