The Duke Blue Devils are headed to the 2016 NCAA Tournament and will open play by facing UNC Wilmington in Providence, Rhode Island.
The Blue Devils enter as a No. 4 seed in the West Region, where Oregon is the No. 1 seed. The Kansas Jayhawks enter the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and the top seed in the South Region.
If it’s able to advance to the 2nd round, Duke would face the winner of Baylor & Yale.
Duke enters the Big Dance with an overall record of 23-10 and finished 11-7 in the ACC. It’s led by All-American guard Grayson Allen, who is averaging a team-high 21.6 points and 3.6 assists while shooting nearly 42% from 3-point range.
The Blue Devils will also rely heavily on freshman wing Brandon Ingram. The potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft averages 16.8 points and 6.8 rebounds and has the potential to create huge mismatches for opposing defenses.
Duke is coming off a disappointing 84-79 overtime loss to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, a game in which it lost a 16-point second half lead. However, the loss allows the Blue Devils to enter the NCAA Tournament on a week’s rest, which is crucial for a team that relies primarily on a 6-man rotation.
In UNC Wilmington, Duke will be facing an opponent that enters with a 25-7 record and was the champion of the Colonial Athletic Conference. The Seahawks are led by Chris Flemmings, who averages 16.1 points per game. UNC Wilmington’s last game was an 80-73 win over Hofstra in the CAA Tournament title, which gave the Seahawks the regular season and tournament titles.
The Blue Devils enter the tournament as the reigning national champions and are looking to be the first program to win back-to-back titles since Florida in 2006 and 2007.
We’ll have more in the coming days about Duke’s opening round game and its potential path to a championship.
What are your initial thoughts about the bracket? Let me know on Twitter at @davidmaldridge.