Greensboro, NC—The Duke Blue Devils outlasted a surprisingly tough, Sylven Landesberg-less Virginia team in their ACC tournament opener Friday.
As a result, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is beginning to look like a sure thing for the Blue Devils.
Earning a No. 1 seed is a big accomplishment, right?
Not according to Mike Krzyzewski.
“It’s not a goal,” said Krzyzewski of Duke potentially earning its first No. 1 seed since the 2005-06 season.
“Believe me, we don’t talk about it at all, not one second,” he continued. “I don’t think about it at all.”
According to Krzyzewski, NCAA tournament seeding isn’t worth any focus because there isn’t any agreed upon criteria for being selected as one of the top four teams in the tournament.
“How can you compete for something you don’t even know what the criteria is for? We can compete for an ACC championship, the criteria is to win three straight games.”
He has a point.
Criteria aside, the Blue Devils are a likely choice to be the fourth No. 1 seed announced by the NCAA tournament selection committee on Sunday.
High seeds carry high expectations, and as a No. 1 seed, anything less than a Final Four appearance will be considered an underachievement.
Underachieving in the postseason has been Duke’s reputation the last few years.
The Blue Devils have been either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the big dance in four or the last five years. During that period, Duke has failed to advance past the Sweet 16. They have been upset in the tournament every year for five straight years.
That’s not to say recent Duke teams haven’t been good.
“My team has been consistent since 1995,” said Krzyzewski. “We are the winningest program in the last decade. We have been pretty good every year and we are going to compete throughout the whole year.”
He has another point.
Duke has been pretty good.
Of course, a No. 1 seed would indicate that Duke is supposed to be better than pretty good. A No. 1 seed without a trip to the Final Four this year would indicate that the Blue Devils are seemingly stuck at “pretty good.”
The Blue Devils may not care about their seed come tournament time, but they do care about winning (“pretty good” isn’t the standard).
According to Krzyzewski, “Any time a Duke team is on the court, it’s important that we do well.”
“Any time” means every game, regardless of the opponent or the stage of the season.
Maybe that’s why Krzyzewski doesn’t care about a No. 1 seed, or the expectations that come along with it—no one’s expectations for the Blue Devils are greater than their own.