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March Madness: Should Duke Make the NCAA Tournament?

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It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the entire world to stop, including the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Thankfully, most college basketball conference tournaments are currently being played without a hitch.  This restores a sense of normalcy for most folks, especially college hoops fans!

One common question being tossed around all over the country is should legendary Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils be invited to the NCAA Tournament.  We will go over the case for and the case against Duke below so keep reading.

The Case Against the Dukies

Even hardcore Blue Devils fans can admit that Duke has played far below expectations for the 2020-21 basketball season.  In fact, Duke finished the regular season with an even 11-11 record and only finished 10th in the ACC standings.  This season’s performance was by far one of Duke’s worst performances in the Coach K era.

Duke also stumbled down the stretch of their regular season schedule by losing three straight conference games to Louisville, Georgia Tech, and archrival North Carolina (2020-21 Duke Blue Devils Schedule | ESPN).  Yes, Duke may have looked great in Round 1 of the ACC tournament by bashing Boston College.  However, let’s not forget that Boston College was an awful team all year long and posted an abysmal 4-16 record.  

It would be a real shame if Duke still found a way into the Big Dance and fellow ACC teams with better records (Georgia Tech, Louisville, and Syracuse) were left on the outside looking in.  The NCAA Tournament invites should be sent on performance alone, not name recognition.

Could the Blue Devils Still Sneak In?

All that being said, could Duke still sneak into the NCAA Tournament?  Absolutely! They are still one of the most popular programs in college basketball history.  Whether hardcore hoops fans like them or not, Duke does drive up TV ratings.  TV network executives are desperate to make ratings as high as possible.  Letting Duke sneak into the tournament would do just that because of their wide fan base.

In order for Duke to make the Big Dance on their own merit and not name recognition, they need to make a deep run in the ACC tourney.  The Blue Devils do not necessarily need to win the conference title, but they need to win at least three games to get into the bubble conversation.  The win over Boston College was a must, but so is the next game against Louisville who is a much tougher opponent.

Prediction Time: What Will Happen?

It is tough to say what will happen with the Duke Blue Devils NCAA Tournament hopes.  Assuming Duke can get by Louisville in the next game (the Devils are a slight favorite), that would leave them playing against #2 seed Florida State in the quarterfinals.  Florida State has more talent than Duke this season, but the Noles have already punched their ticket to the Big Dance so they may not be as focused.  In short, there is still hope for Duke to advance to the NCAA Tournament but it is definitely crunch time.

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