The ACC tournament is officially underway, and the No. 3 seed Duke Blue Devils have to be considered one of the favorites to take home the league crown.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski commented on his affection for the event, per Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "I love the ACC tournament. It is the first great conference tournament; all the others came about as a result of this tournament. So historically this has been the one that has started everything."
While the ACC tournament is certainly entertaining, we are simply building up to the main course of the college basketball season—the Big Dance. Something tells me the Blue Devils would gladly trade a loss in Greensboro for a trip to the Final Four.
The question at this point is where Krzyzewski’s squad will be seeded come Selection Sunday.
Had Duke taken care of business against some of the lesser-talented opponents on its schedule during the regular season, it would be a lock for a No. 1 seed. However, it will be difficult for the selection committee to overlook defeats at the hands of Notre Dame, Clemson and Wake Forest when comparing the Blue Devils’ resume to those of the other No. 1 seed contenders.
The fact that the loss to the Demon Deacons came so late certainly doesn’t help either.
Furthermore, both Arizona and Kansas knocked off Duke during the non-conference portion of the season. The Wildcats and Jayhawks have to be considered No. 1 seed contenders, so the head-to-head results carry some extra weight as far as the Blue Devils are concerned.
Duke’s 4-5 road record in ACC play doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in its ability to consistently win away from Cameron either.
Duke may not have a No. 1-seed resume, but it still has one of the best rosters in the nation and has performed accordingly for most of the year. That puts it in the discussion for a No. 2 or 3 seed, since it is nearly impossible to envision the Blue Devils falling below the No. 3 line considering the attrition that has hit the top of the polls throughout the season.
The ACC tournament will certainly influence whether Duke can land a No. 2 seed on Selection Sunday.
If the Blue Devils were to lose their Friday game against the winner of the Clemson and Georgia Tech tilt, then some combination of teams such as Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia could knock them to a No. 3 seed.
That being said, Duke probably will not lose Friday.
It dismantled the Yellow Jackets twice this year and would almost certainly do the same so close to home in Greensboro. Of course, we already mentioned the loss to the Tigers, but with the talent on Duke’s roster and the fact that the game won’t be at Clemson this time, Krzyzewski’s squad will enact a measure of revenge in this hypothetical.
That would put the Blue Devils into the semifinals, presumably against Syracuse.
A win would all but lock up a No. 2 seed for Duke, and it’s difficult to envision a loss against the Orange being held against the Blue Devils in a drastic fashion. Sure, it would give the Orange an advantage when comparing the two, but who’s to say both ACC teams can’t be No. 2 seeds, especially since Duke holds head-to-head wins over Michigan and Virginia?
The guess here is Duke will be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament as long as it wins Friday, regardless of whether it wins the ACC crown.
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