March Madness Time for Duke

Duke will open the NCAA Tournament against Albany.
Duke will open the NCAA Tournament against Albany.

The Duke Blue Devils open the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 22nd at 12:15 against the University of Albany. Duke is coming off a disappointing and somewhat surprising first round exit from the ACC Tournament. Many feel Duke was placed in the toughest region in the tournament and should’ve been seeded higher or in a different bracket. Albany won their conference tournament to get into the Big Dance.

Many Duke fans still feel the heartache of losing in the 2nd round (it’s really the first round, the NCAA needs to fix that) last year to Lehigh. A few differences between Lehigh and Albany. Lehigh was underseeded (many analysts felt they should’ve been no lower than a 12/13 seed) and had a legitimate NBA first round prospect in CJ McCollum. Duke was also without Ryan Kelly. Albany has no such future NBA first round pick and Ryan Kelly is back for the Blue Devils. While I don’t believe the game will be a blowout (Duke always struggles in noon games) I do see Duke being too much and winning by 10-12 points. May not seem like much, but after last year, we’ll take it.

In the third round, Duke will face off against the winner of Creighton and Cincinnati. Many experts are divided on who will win this matchup. Personally I believe it will be Creighton, because I think Doug McDermott will be too much for Cincinnati to handle. Either way Duke will have their hands full.

If they face Creighton, they must find a way to stop McDermott. Duke, at times this year, has struggled to contain the opposing teams best player (Joe Harris – Virginia, Dez Wells – Maryland, for example). If McDermott scores 30 or more points, Duke will be going home early again. If they can contain him, and shoot well themselves, they will advance.

If they face Cincinnati, they must find a way to rebound. Cincinnati is really tough on the boards and they make the game ugly. As beautiful as Duke can play at times, Cincinnati can play equally as ugly. This typically does not bode well for Duke as it disrupts their rhythm and they often times have trouble scoring which affects their defense. Duke will need to push the pace and fight for rebounds.

No matter who they face in the third round it will be a close game. Given Duke’s past it’s hard to be 100% confident they will advance past this tough matchup, but I believe they beat either team by 5. Duke will advance to the Sweet 16, where it will get even tougher.

Chris Summerville is originally from Indian Trail, NC and currently resides in Monroe, NC.  He has been a lifetime Duke fan and knows exactly what he was doing when Christian Laettner crushed the hopes and dreams of Kentucky fans (and Aminu Timberlake’s intestines).  Chris graduated from UNC Asheville in 2003 with a degree in Multimedia Arts & Sciences.  By day he is Creative Director for one of the major billiard companies in the US.  By night he prowls the interwebs as the Duke of Hoops.  Chris can often be found on Twitter arguing with UNC fans.

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