O'Neil: Pitino, Krzyzewski come full circle

INDIANAPOLIS -- Time has a way of clouding our memories, or worse, diluting them. Was what happened really as good as it seemed then? It's why arguments about the greatest of all time in anything -- sports, politics, music, film -- are so entertaining. It's almost impossible to separate eras, to remove sentiment and emotion from the debate.

Yet somehow college basketball has managed to keep its focus. In this, the 75th anniversary of the NCAA tournament, there have been lists upon lists made by virtually every media outlet that gives a fig about the sport. There is debate over the best player and the best team.

But there is no argument about the game's greatest moment:

March 28, 1992: Kentucky versus Duke, Elite Eight, Philadelphia.

It is the sport's eternal high-water mark, one where, if you were privileged enough to be there (as I was), you carry that badge like some historical mark of honor.

Strangely, especially in the made-for-TV Hallmark world we live in, the two main actors in college basketball's greatest game never crossed paths again for 20 years. Not until this past November, when Duke played Louisville in the Battle 4 Atlantis did Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino stalk the same sideline together. Not until Sunday will they have faced each other in an NCAA tournament game since that epic day at the old Spectrum.

So there is something poetic, especially in this, a season full of strange moments but no single defining one yet, that the two meet again.

It is an impossibly tall order to ask Sunday's Elite Eight game between the Blue Devils and the Cardinals to match that one. But no less an authority than Krzyzewski thinks this could be the game of the tournament.

For Dana O'Neil's full column, click here.