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Friday, March 18, 2011

Is Duke actually the worst Number 1 seed?

There has been a lot of fuss surrounding the seeding of this years NCAA men's basketball tournament, and most of it has to do with who was left out, and who among the lower seeds received a higher seeding than they should have. Nonetheless, there is an argument to be made that even the NCAA got it slightly wrong with the number one seeds. This is not to say that the current number one seeds are not deserving, only the order of the four is somewhat incorrect.  The biggest contention here could be made by Puke, er, Duke, who might have the deepest team on the floor, not to mention one of the best coaches of all time.

It is no secret that Duke is as hated in basketball as the Yankees are in baseball.  Heck, even I have jumped on the Puke dislike bandwagon(as an aside, I really don't dislike Duke, it is sort of a running joke, as they used to be my favorite team all throughout my high school and college days,  in part probably because the local teams I had to root for werent that great.)  However,  there is no denying that Duke is a talented squad, and rumor has it they are due to get back point guard sensation Kyrie Irving, who, before being injured, was considered to be a top 3 pick in this year's NCAA lottery.

It also goes without saying that Mike Krzyzewski, head coach of the Duke Blue Devils, is one of the greatest in the game.  His resume is almost unparalleled, as he has led his team to 11 Final Fours in the past 20+ seasons, including four national championships. As far as that goes, no other active coach comes close to what he has accomplished.

If those weren't enough, consider this: even if  Irving doesn't return, the Blue Devils also boast Nolan Smith, who is making a strong push to be considered as a Naismith finalist, and Kyle Singler, last season's most outstanding player in the tournament. 

So why then is there all this disrespect for Duke all of a sudden?

It seems Duke is in the tournament every year, and they are always seeded fairly high, for starters.  Eleven final fours in 20 years might sound impressive, but when you receive a top three seed annually, expectations begin to grow.  Duke has been known to collapse in given years.

Then, despite being a hated team, there is the perception that Duke is too soft this season to do any damage, that the loss of center Brian Zoubek will hurt them in the paint.  It is true that Zoubek's defense and rebounding will be missed, but is not as if they don't have the bodies to replace them.  And if the Blue Devils can get to the foul line watch out.

At the end of the day, it is anyone's tournament, and Duke, just like Kansas or Ohio State, has just as good of a chance to cut down the nets.  History says that when the Blue Devils are seeded number one, they do not disappoint.  And even though I am not big on historical trends myself, if I had to do it over again(and could put aside my Ohio State bias), I might be picking the Dukies to cut down the nets in Houston.  That's the great thing about college basketball, though.  In a one and done scenario anything can happen.

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