Duke Basketball: What Experts Say About Blue Devils' NCAA Tournament Chances

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts in the second half against the Florida State Seminoles during the semifinals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 10, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After adding Austin Rivers to a returning class that included Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins, the Duke Blue Devils right back in the mix for a national championship this season. 

A loss in the ACC semifinals cost them any shot they had at a No. 1 seed, but a good draw as the two-seed in the South region makes them a threat to get back to the Final Four. 

Like everyone else around them, expert analysts are offering their advice on what will happen to the Blue Devils when they kick off their tournament run against Lehigh on Friday. 

We are going to offer the best takes on what is being said about the Dukies, and give our thoughts on the analysis. 


Jay Bilas

Prediction: Duke loses to Kentucky in Elite Eight

Analysis: The Wildcats are more athletic, and more talented. And, the Cats will be fully engaged to play Duke and go after the Blue Devils...

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  Austin Rivers #0 of the Duke Blue Devils and his teammates react in the second half against the Florida State Seminoles during the semifinals of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 10, 2012
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Our Take: A standard prediction given where the Blue Devils are at in the bracket, Bilas presents the matchup in the simplest possible terms. When you go up against a better team, you are going to lose. Duke can catch lightning in a bottle, but this is far from the most talented team Coach K has ever had. 


Joe Lunardi

Prediction: Duke loses to Baylor in Sweet 16

Analysis: "The Blue Devils should have little if no problems advancing to at least the Regionals, if only because, once again, they get to commute to a very friendly Sub-Regional site, this time in Greensboro. Duke wins two games...then goes up against Baylor in Atlanta in the Sweet 16. This is a matchup that reminds me a lot of what Duke encountered last year against Arizona in the West Region, and I see a similar outcome."

Our Take: Baylor is certainly an athletic team, with the players to keep up with the Blue Devils. The problem is, the Bears have struggled against better teams this season. It's possible they could put it all together for one big run. 


Dave Bradley of Duke Blue Planet


Duke played 15 of 33 games against NCAA Tourney teams. No team in the field defeated more NCAA Tourney teams than the Blue Devils.

Duke Basketball (@dukeblueplanet) March 12, 2012

Our Take: It is important to remember that the Blue Devils played the third-most difficult schedule in the country this year and still won 27 games. The only team that can match them would be Michigan State, who the Blue Devils beat in the season opener. 

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 09:  (L-R) Mason Plumlee #5, Andre Dawkins #20, Austin Rivers #0 and Seth Curry #30 of the Duke Blue Devils huddle up against the Virginia Tech Hokies in their Quarterfinal game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


Mike Huguenin 

Analysis: "Duke-Notre Dame would make for an interesting coaching matchup between the Irish’s Mike Brey and his former boss, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Irish would try to slow the pace to a crawl and generally try to “ugly up” the game."

Our Take: There doesn't seem to be a lot of support for Notre Dame because of its defensive struggles in recent weeks, but the Irish have the style that can frustrate Duke. If the Irish dictate the pace, they could pull off the upset. Even though Huguenin is not calling for an upset, he does make a compelling case for one. 


All told, there is not a lot of support out there for the Blue Devils to get past Kentucky in the South region finals. They have been frustrated this year by teams that are more athletic and able to spread the floor on them. 

Of course, an easy draw and some upsets along the way could push Duke back to the Final Four for the first time since 2010. No one saw that championship coming, so who is to say that it can't happen again?