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ACC: Irish Eliminate Duke, 55-49
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2015 NCAA Preview - Durham 1st Round
2015 NCAA Pre-Bracket Thoughts
By Rob Clough
March 15, 2015

Let's look at Duke's prospects in the NCAA tournament. The bracket is still very much in flux because of the geographical component of seeding. Balancing the bracket became less important than making sure that teams could play as close to their home region as possible. The good news is that the NCAA went back to using the home arenas of the top sixteen seeds this season, as was done until experimentation started with preassigned sites (large, then small). Certainly, it gives those sixteen top four seeds a tremendous advantage, but it's better than giving an advantage to a team that simply bid on getting a home seed but wound up being seeded lower -- which has happened any number of times, often to the detriment of the higher seed.

Duke is currently ranked #15 in the RPI. They are 5-5 against teams in the RPI top 25, 7-7 against teams in the top 50, 8-9 against the top 100, and 18-10 against the top 200. There's no question that Duke has been battle-tested and battle-tested with this current lineup. Duke will have played (and lost to) three #1 seeds: Notre Dame (twice), UConn and South Carolina. Few teams have played a schedule as tough as the Blue Devils, when you factor in conference and non-conference games.

Most projections have Duke as a #3 seed. The question is, which bracket will they wind up in? The NCAA will most likely try to avoid having Duke in Notre Dame's bracket, so if Notre Dame is the #1 seed in the Greensboro region, then Duke would not be in Greensboro. There's a chance Notre Dame could be sent to Oklahoma City (which is roughly equidistant from South Bend as South Bend is to Greensboro), which means Duke would almost certainly be sent to Greensboro, possibly with South Carolina as the #1 seed (a team far closer to Greensboro than the Irish). Some teams that Duke could be matched up with are the winner of the MEAC title (Hampton, NC A&T, etc), the winner of the Patriot League (probably American U) or Liberty University (the closest school in this rough seeding bracket). I see Liberty as being the most likely choice.

There are a number of potential six seeds that could be sent to Durham. South Florida is a popular pick, but there's a chance Princeton could be there as well. Other teams might be Chattanooga, Rutgers, Texas A&M (who beat Duke early on), Texas, Ohio State and Mississippi State. South Florida and Rutgers would be great style matchups for Duke. Princeton and Chattanooga (both teams that can really shoot) would be bad matchups for Duke. Despite Duke's injuries, there's a good chance for this team to make it to the Sweet Sixteen and then compete for an Elite Eight berth, which would just about max out this team's potential.

My final prediction: Duke will be a #3 seed in the Oklahoma City regional with South Carolina as the #1 seed, hosting #14 Liberty and #6 South Florida. We'll see what the committee reveals Monday night!

ACC: Irish Eliminate Duke, 55-49
Member Photos
2015 NCAA Preview - Durham 1st Round

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