Tag Archives: Duke NCAA Tournament

Duke Set to Take on All Comers in Columbia

It's been a pretty darn entertaining year for the 2018-19 Duke Blue Devils basketball team.  The Blue Devils started the regular season with a beat down of Kentucky but ended it with their second loss to North Carolina and a third-place regular season finish.

Injuries played a big role in the late season struggles where several Duke players missed time, including Zion Williamson.  Duke would right the ship with Williamson back in the lineup with three wins in the ACC Tournament and in the end, are the conference champions.

Duke enters the NCAA Tournament as the nation's number one seed and they will play not too far south in Columbia, S.C. in an effort to survive and advance.  With Zion Williamson, the nations tops player, in his home state, good things are likely to happen for Duke.

The Blue Devils should be well rested with their game tipping off this Friday promptly at 7:10 on CBS.  They will also get what amounts to be an easy game where they face the winner or North Carolina Central and North Dakota State.  Both of those teams are 18-15 and the winners will be playing on two days rest.

Duke should be able to use their depth early and often in the opening game which will further rest any minor nagging injuries to their players.  The second game will be more challenging, if not on the court, then in other ways.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski might well face his first great recruit in Johnny Dawkins and Central Florida.  It is a known fact, that Krzyzewski does not like to face his former players when they are at the helm at other schools.

Then again, Duke may face Virginia Commonwealth and few Duke fans will forget losing to them in the NCAA Tournament during the 2006-07 season.  The UCF and VCU game is expected to be close.  The Golden Knights are a 1.5 point favorite, so it is tough to project who the opponent will be with any certainty.

Regardless of the opponent, Duke should make it through to Washington. D.C.  In years past, this would seem less certain, but RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson are on this team and those two guys will be etched in Duke fans memories for years to come in that they are both destined for more greatness.

Quite simply, Duke should take care of business with a team that is peaking at the right time.   They may have a challenge for a bit in games if they are not focussed but it would be a shock for them not to advance.

The Blue Devils are in a position to be a rested team as the tournament advances.  What you want to avoid are injuries while working on areas of concern, such as ironing out the rotation that will be used as the team seeking its sixth national title adjusts for the prime time of the season.

It would benefit Duke for Cam Reddish to get a little more comfortable in the rotation by involving him more in Columbia.  Tre Jones needs to continue being aggressive on offense for he is money from the free throw stripe, an area where the star freshmen struggle.

The Blue Devils could also use the trip to possibly shore up their three-point shooting while continuing to tweak their already good defense.    What the staff is likely looking for is a more consistent effort by its rotation players as well for good things happen when all the players contribute in the box score.

And speaking of contrinutions, Marques Bolden has returned to practice.  This is another key to chemistry, especially if Duke is able to get him some minutes this weekend.

The bottom line is that Duke has too much firepower on offense to stumble this early, but Krzyzewski probably rolls over when people pencil them forward with such ease.  It is not for a lack of respect for the opponent that has me saying what I have but instead, the respect I have for the talent on this years team.

And did I mention that Zion Williamson will be playing in his home state this weekend?  Let the games begin!


Duke Locker Room Video Interviews

Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter and Javin DeLaurier had a few things to say after the huge Duke win over Iona.  Check out what they had to say -

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Duke Basketball Monday Morning Notebook

The Duke Men's Basketball team headed back to Durham yesterday morning where they turned their attention to the announcement of the 2012 NCAA Tournament pairings.  As expected, Duke landed in Greensboro where they'll take on Lehigh around 7:10 on Friday and should they advance, they take on the winner of the Notre Dame vs Xavier game.  The Blue Devils have been one of the top eight seeds in 14 of the last 16 NCAA Tournaments.

Taking a quick look back at the ACC Tournament

I can assure you the team is already focused on Lehigh but let's take a quick look back at what happened in the tournament.  First off, it was clear that the Duke offense missed Ryan Kelly and that they were adjusting to his absence.  The Blue Devils managed just 59.5 ppg while shooting 37% in the two games.  The Blue Devils got 17 ppg from Austin Rivers and 12.5 from Seth Curry but the rest of the team struggled to score.  Of course, that was partly due to playing some really hungry teams and the Duke defense played as well as it had all season, thus the close games.  The loss to Florida State certainly hurt, but the Seminoles then beat North Carolina proving that they were the best team in Atlanta.  Had Duke got another stop or had a made bucket here or there, they would have been in the final game.  The Blue Devils have dominated the tournament in recent years winning 10 out of the last 14 and the experienced Seminoles won their first tournament ever.   The Blue Devils played with effort but a few mental lapses proved their undoing but in the end, there is no shame in losing to a red hot FSU team that earned a 3rd seed in the NCAA Tournament with their play. The one thing which Duke will need to control going forward are their turnovers if they want to advance.  The Blue Devils had but 8 against Virginia Tech but that number doubled against Florida State with a total of 16.

The seeding

Duke was selected as the #2 seed in the South Region which means they will head to Greensboro and if they survive two games, they will head right back to Atlanta.  One might call me biased, but the Blue Devils got one heck of a Road to the Final Four.  The South Region features the #1 overall seed in Kentucky who will play on familiar turf.  Then there are three of the last four teams from last seasons Final Four in the field not to mention the last two national champions.  Duke faces a pesky Lehigh team in their opener and could run into Mike Brey and Notre Dame in the next game should they advance or an Xavier team that started the season ranked 14th in the A.P. poll.  And then there is an ultra long and athletic Baylor team should they advance to Atlanta.  It is clearly one of the two toughest regions and as I said, I think it's the toughest of them all.

Battled tested Blue Devils

Duke is battled tested due to playing one of the toughest schedules in the land.  With wins over Kansas, Michigan State, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida State they can play with anybody, so don't think this team cannot make a run.  This team now has some tough skin and they know what it is like to play in close games, be they high scoring or defensive stand offs.  When the games get tight in the tournament and they will, Duke has been there before and that will certainly help.

Duke finishes 8th in the Coaches Poll

Rankings mean little right now, but unlike the A.P., the coaches poll comes out again after the conference tournaments and Duke is ranked 8th in the final poll.  Duke started the season as the 6th rated team in the country.

Getting Andre going

Dawkins is in a shooting slump as teams have learned to play him for the three point shot and the Blue Devils could sure use one of his explosive 20 point efforts in the NCAA Tournament.  Not a single point from Dawkins in the ACC Tournament is a red flag indeed and Dawkins is vital to the Blue Devils long term efforts.  Sometimes a player just needs to do all the other things on the court, such as crashing the boards, a pass for an assist or a defensive play and let his offense come at it's on pace.  If Dawkins plays well off ball or without touches, his offense will come back.

Austin Rivers

Rivers has scored in double figures in 29 games this season and he's been the Blue Devils most consistent scorer but his defense impressed me this weekend as did his hustle.  If there was a loose ball on the floor, Rivers was there and his overall game is catching up to his offense.  Rivers probably should have just pulled up for his missed three pointer against Florida State and that only proves that the freshman still has a few lessons to learn but perhaps the lessons to date will prove vital in the NCAA Tournament. 

Day to day for Kelly

Ryan Kelly has made progress with his foot injury but it's be slow going for the Duke junior in an attempt to fend of reinjury.  Kelly is the 3rd leading scorer for Duke and his points were missed in Atlanta as was his ability to stretch a defense with this outside stroke.  Here is to a quick recovery for a key player in the Duke rotation.


Duke NCAA Tournament Factoids

Duke is 12-0 when playing NCAA Tournament games in Greensboro, N.C. Duke won the 2001 NCAA Championship after playing its first two games in Greensboro.  Duke has beaten a No. 1 seed eight times, the most No. 1 upsets in NCAA history. From 1991-93, the Blue Devils won 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament games which ranks as the second longest streak in NCAA history behind only John Wooden's 38-game run at UCLA from 1964-74.  As the No. 2 seed in the tournament, Duke owns a 23-7 record. Duke won the 1991 NCAA Championship as the No. 2 seed.  Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is 79-23 (.775) in the NCAA Tournament and is college basketball's all-time leader in NCAA Tournament wins. North Carolina's Roy Williams is the next closest active coach with 58 NCAA wins.  Duke is 96-31 (756) all-time in the NCAA Tournament, ranked as the highest NCAA Tournament winning percentage of any program. Duke's 96 wins are the third most behind Kentucky (105) and North Carolina (105) per Duke Sports Information.

A look at Lehigh

Lehigh gained an automatic NCAA bid as the Patriot League Champion and they ride an eight-game winning streak into tournament play. Lehigh has played NCAA Tournament teams Michigan State, losing 90-81 and Iowa State, losing  86-77  all on the road. Lehigh's roster boasts the nation's 5th leading score,  C.J. McCollum (21.9 ppg.)  This is the 5th NCAA Tournament for Lehigh.

 And tickets remain for Greensboro at Ticketmaster for face value, so hustle up and support the Blue Devils!



Monday Musings – Lot’s of Duke Basketball chatter

photo- Lance King for BDN

As Duke took a 15 point lead over Michigan in yesterday's game, the song "California Dreaming," started to play in my head, but a furious Wolverine comeback almost burst that dream bubble and that's what it is all about.  It takes but one made shot to send your dreams packing and nightmares to begin, but Duke survived and advanced and this is how you do in the NCAA's.  In this weeks Monday Musings, late afternoon column, we'll take a look back and ahead with happenings surrounding Duke Basketball.

Sometimes, you have to make your own emotion

For the first thirty minutes of the game I kept thinking to myself on press row, how flat the crowd was in Charlotte.  Across the way, the only person I could make out standing up in the Iron Duke section was Debbie K, Coach K's daughter.  A few moments later with the team looking flat, Coach Krzyzewski slapped the court with his hand, jacket peeled off, arms in the air exhorting fans as he walked out to meet his team, emotion clearly implanted on his face.  It's not the first time he's had to do this for as fans we get a little fat and happy.  Regardless, without that emotion Duke would have never vaulted to a substantial lead, one which they had to hang onto for dear life to advance.

900 wins, 1,2,3, 4 ................. 896 more

Wow!  Coach K now has 900 wins!  Amazing feat indeed and it deserves even more attention than it is getting but make no mistake, Coach will reflect on this after the season.  For now, he wants nothing more than this team to win, not for him, but for them and the fan base.  With so much going on, BDN hasn't even been able to write much about the accomplishment but we want to address that after four more victories if you know what I mean, wink, wink.  We do however salute him with the count box on our main page which will soon contain a link to his vast accomplishments.


LK Image for BDN

The return of Kyrie Irving

Let me tell you first hand that it was quite the circus surrounding Kyrie Irving this past weekend.  Never have I seen so many cameras on a kid during NCAA events.  Irving is clearly coming along fast at this point and he will see even more minutes against Arizona and may even start.  We have several video interviews up with Irving, so check them out.  You could see flashes of Irving getting back to where he was but there is a ways to go yet with concern to his   Still, Duke may not have advanced had it not been for his second half play.  His one steal was a key one and the only one the Blue Devils made all day and that runner was the difference in the end.

... but Rollin' Nolan is the backbone

Make no mistake, Nolan Smith is the leader of this season's team and his skills have allowed Duke to get as far as they have to date.  Nolan put the team on his back, scoring 10 straight points against Michigan yesterday and without him Duke would be staying in Durham until graduation.  Smith has been flat out hard to stop and when he gets on the same page with Irving ... watch out!  He is the most dependable player on the team and his consistency has been amazing.  Give him a good look the rest of the way Duke fans, because he's having one of the best seasons of any player in the Blue Devils illustrious history.

Kyle Singler, he's not that good

Relax!  I didn't  say it, an astute well thought of sports writer beside me on press row did.   Look, Kyle had some misses yesterday that make you want to hide until the next play and it is funny how some only seem to recognize an air ball.  That was the case with the writer beside me.  I then pointed out that Kyle had 7 rebounds and led the team with assists with 4 with about 17 minutes left in the game.  It amazes me how people fail to see what he does off ball and how good a defensive player he is.  Singler is a flat out winner who could care less about his stat line.  You better get a good look this week at #12 Duke fans, for you will not realize how much you miss an eternal starter until he is gone.

Jet lag and adjusting

Duke will leave tomorrow afternoon for California in order to adjust to a three hour time difference.  It will be quite an adjustment for the Devils and could point to a slow start.  Arizona is much more familiar with the turf, having a lot of players from Cali on their roster mixed with some street tough New Yorkers.  Anaheim is a nice family oriented place so it shouldn't be too many crazed fans and for the first time, Duke is away from the baby blue bunch that is booing them heartily at every turn.

Speaking of the lunatic fringe fans ...

Okay, there are a lot of Carolina fans, so that means more fools in their fan base and all schools have them.  But I just cannot understand the make up of hate some of them seem to have.  F&%$ Duke shirts are a bit over the top and you never see Duke fans, no matter how redneck they may be in similar garb.  There were fans there whose soul purpose was to spew hate when Duke took to the court, spittle flying out of their mouths, faces red with last nights beverages.  One got escorted away and even more rational Tar Heels fans actually clapped.  One couple held up an anti Duke sign saying I hate  Dooke?  Any Tar Heel hating fan knows its Dook.  On to a public restaurant where four Heels fans were asked to leave or take off their F&%# Duke shirts.  Not the kind of thing one would wear in public unless of course they are part of the lunatic fringe.  The hate really is disturbing at times.

Get well soon to one of our cheerleaders!

One of our own suffered an injury yesterday, cheerleader Hattie Cutcliffe.  BDN loves the support group behind the Blue Devils and we wish her a speedy recovery.  She's the one that turns like 164 flips in Cameron, being the best at that!  No details on the injury but we have our sources working on it;)

We love what we do!

Just wanted to take a moment to say thanks for all the fans who support and make up the Blue Devil Nation!  We love what we do around here and will continue to bring you passionate yet professional coverage of all things Duke Athletics.  We will be working on some changes soon which are sure to please and our AAU Basketball coverage will begin soon.  You can support our efforts and ability to bring you up close and personal with the teams by joining Blue Devil Nation Premium, our subscription service.  It is our members which help keep the site going and that give us the ability to offer so much on the free side of the site, much of which other sites charge for.

In closing, a little  story for you

After the media scramble where I interviewed players in the Duke locker room, I ventured back to my computer which was court side.  Most of the media had left for the media room but I remained with maybe five others due to a faster Internet connection.  It must have been maybe an hour after the game ended when I  looked up from my work.  Walking towards the court with his head hanging was a player in a Michigan warm up.  As he strolled out on to the court area, I could see tears in his eyes.  He walked onto the court and then started from just inside the free throw line and walked through and took a shot with and imaginary ball and repeated this two more  times.  You could see his mind working and he was doing all he could to fight back more tears.  He then strolled silently off the court and walked to the top of the arena where he stood and reflected one more time before turning and walking off until he faded from sight.  It was Darius Morris who missed the shot at the buzzer.  Folks, this is what it is all about!  And this is why you need to relish every single victory and understand it is not your birthright as a fan to see Duke win every game.  Each win is sweet and it should be cherished for there are players on the losing team who showed as much heart despite the loss.  Keep your head up Darius for you guys played a helluva game.