Duke, Kentucky Miss 2021 NCAA Tournament; 1st Time Since 1976 Both out of Field

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2021

Kentucky head coach John Calipari yells to his players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Mississippi State in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The 2021 NCAA men's tournament is missing some blue bloods.

Duke and Kentucky both missed the Big Dance in the same year for the first time since 1976. The result was widely expected for days after the Wildcats lost in the SEC tournament to Mississippi State and the Blue Devils dropped out of the ACC tournament because of COVID-19 issues, but it became official Sunday when the bracket was released.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

First time Duke and Kentucky won’t be in the tourney since 1976 🤯 Wild. https://t.co/CCAURNCKni

While Duke lost its chance to play its way into the field when it dropped out of the conference tournament, it wasn't good enough throughout the season to earn an at-large bid.

The Blue Devils were working from behind from almost the start of the season when they dropped two of their first four games to Michigan State and Illinois. They also had three separate losing streaks of three games during ACC play and finished 9-9 in conference play.

The ACC also wasn't as strong as it typically is and didn't have a single team finish with a seed better than No. 4 (the seed both Virginia and Florida State were given). 

As for Kentucky, it was even worse than Duke.

The Wildcats started the season 1-6 and went just 8-9 in SEC play. They lost two of their final three regular-season games and then lost by one point in the conference tournament when Mississippi State's Iverson Molinar drained two free throws to put the Bulldogs up for good in the final stretch.

It shouldn't take Duke and Kentucky long to bounce back given the pedigree of each program and their recruiting. 

The Wildcats are No. 4 in the country in 247Sports' rankings for the 2021 recruiting cycle, while the Blue Devils have two 5-star prospects in Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin. They just won't be dancing this season.