In its first season without the legendary Coach K, the Duke Blue Devils aim to capture their first NCAA Championship title since the 2014-15 season.
Duke enters the 2023 March Madness tournament with a 26-8 overall record, 16-0 at home and 4-6 away. That puts Duke at third in the Atlantic Coast Conference behind Miami FL and Virginia.
Coming off a nine-game win streak, Duke joins March Madness tonight, playing Oral Roberts in a first-round game. It’s an easily winnable game, though nothing is guaranteed in the wacky world of March Madness.
The round of 64 pits the Duke Blue Devils against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
Duke’s biggest weakness as a team is inconsistency behind the arc. If the team can shake the nerves of first-round play (which they’ve done many times before) and make buckets in the key and beyond three-point range, they can handily win this match-up.
Oral Roberts gives up 70.1 points on average against Duke’s 63.9. Duke Freshman Kyle Filipowski is a close-range double-double contender who could eat up the Oral Roberts defense.
Any March Madness fan knows 12-5 upsets are completely within the realm of possibility. Last year alone, Richmond downed the University of Iowa while New Mexico State took down UConn. To be frank, Duke doesn’t seem likely to fall to a similar upset, and there are other 5-12 games more likely to produce a surprise win.
The most likely scenario for Duke in round two is a bout with the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee (a 4-seed) plays the University of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (13-seed) in round one. The Vols are a popular pick among bracket pundits, and for good reason. Tennessee brings a defensive force to the court, limiting opponents to 58 points on average. The Cajuns yield 69.8.
All eyes are on Tennessee to nab an easy round one win.
Should Duke and Tennessee meet, it’ll be a tight game. 4-5 seed match-ups tend to be nail-biters, and this oen won’t be any different.
Let’s say Duke steamrolls ORal Roberts and manages to lock out Tennessee in round two. What awaits the Blue Devils in the Sweet Sixteen?
Most would say the Purdue Boilermakers, hot off wins against Fairleigh Dickinson (what a name!) and the winner of Memphis/FAU. Purdue comes to March Madness fresh off a Big Ten tournament win. However, the Boilermakers are one of the more beatable 1-seeds in this year’s tournament. Purdue keeps opponents to 62.7 points per game on average, and they’re 3-2 against top 25 teams. If Duke can stifle star player Zach Edey, the Blue Devils might be able to pave their way to a deep tournament run.
I feel confident that Duke will trounce Oral Roberts in the first round, but from there, things get murky. It’s simply too hard to predict what could happen beyond that first (admittedly surmountable) hurdle.
A Duke run to the Sweet Sixteen is well within the Blue Devils’ power, despite some tough potential matchups looming. Tennessee will be the first big hurdle, and beyond the Volunteers lies the 1-seed Purdue Boilermakers. A bet on Duke to make the Sweet Sixteen would be reasonable enough, though it does come with a healthy measure of risk.
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