Duke comes into the tournament losing their last three games. Duke, who is the perennial powerhouse in the ACC, was forced to bow out early. Not that it makes it better, but the team they lost to went on to the championship game and gave North Carolina a run for their money. Either way Duke is the #6 seed in the NCAA tournament, which is the lowest they have been since a #8 seed in 1996.
The season has been a test in futility for all Duke fans. We are so use to watching a winning product night in and night out. However, we knew coming in that this team was young and there would be growing pains.
Duke will enter the tournament with no expectations. No one is talking about the powerful Duke dynasty, and the day of Duke’s first game, there will probably be no big talk about Duke’s quest for a fourth national championship. For such a young team, the low expectations might be a welcome change.
Duke’s first match up puts them against #11 seed Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Last year, this might be a bigger match up because of the fact that Jeff Capel, former Duke player, was the coach. This year no such talk is being made of this one. The only time the national media mentions it, is when they talk about upset. As every game this year, this will be no walk in the park for the Blue Devils. They must play more inspired than they did when they played against NC State, when they were beat in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
If Duke gets by VCU they will have a tough game in the second round against, most likely, Pittsburgh. Pitt has been one of the top teams in the Big East all year. However, Duke, and their fans can’t look ahead, as the VCU game will be a test for the Blue Devils.
Duke will have plenty of time to prepare for VCU, as they played their last game on Thursday.Â Hopefully this long week of practice can prepare the Blue Devils for a solid showing in the tournament they are expected to do nothing in.
A season that would be envied by most is a down one for the Blue Devils. However, this team was at one time in danger of not making the tournament at all, and they were able to ratchet it up to do what they had to do. If the Devils could play well enough to make a good run in tournament, maybe getting past VCU and Pitt to the sweet sixteen, then all of a sudden a team that had a disappointing season would looked at as overachievers. The tournament can change everything, and anything can happen. This usually has been the downfall of the Blue Devils, as lower seeds have ousted them the last two years. This time Duke is the lower seed, and looking to be the shockers.
Will Duke surprise us, or will the frustrations continue? Only time will tell.