Early projections show that the Duke basketball program could have a brutal stretch in the NCAA Tournament.
It’s never too early to be looking at 2021 NCAA Tournament projections, right?
After all, we were stripped of a 2020 NCAA Tournament, so I think college basketball fans around the world can look forward to the best weeks of the season in March.
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ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi released yet another preseason bracket as we inch closer to the 2020-21 college basketball season, and his placing for the Duke Blue Devils has not changed.
Duke is sitting as a No. 2 seed in the East Region, according to Lunardi.
Since releasing his first offseason bracket, Lunardi has always slotted the Blue Devils on the No. 2-line, but on July 15 he had Mike Krzyzewski‘s team in the South Region with the Baylor Bears as the No. 1 seed.
The South Region is scheduled to play its Regional Semifinal and Final in Memphis, Tennessee.
However, now being in the East Region, with the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in Brooklyn, New York, Duke could be playing a lot of locally based teams if these early projections stay true to form.
What challenges could be awaiting the Duke basketball program?
Well, in the Round of 64, Lunardi has the Blue Devils facing No. 15 Sienna, and Duke would then play the winner of the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines and No. 10 Richmond Spiders, with both games in the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, a house of horrors for the Blue Devils.
Should Duke win both of those games, the five-time National Champions would then advance to the Barclays Center, an arena that has been good to the program, which won the 2017 ACC Tournament Championship in the building and became the first team to win four games in four days to win the title.
However, there would be a good chance Duke would face the Seton Hall Pirates or Rutgers Scarlet Knights, just a short car ride away from both of their respective campuses in New Jersey.
Finally, Duke would then have to face the No. 1 seed Villanova Wildcats, if they were to advance from their side of the region, for the right to advance to the Final Four.
If this bracket were to come true, and it almost certainly will not, it would be a brutal draw for Duke, having to play two road games in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed, and Blue Devil fans remember what happened in that 2017 NCAA Tournament where Duke faced South Carolina in its home state in the Round of 32 and was defeated.
No one ever wants to see Duke get the easy road to another National Championship, but this Blue Devil team already seems determined on bringing another banner to Cameron Indoor Stadium, seven weeks before the start of the season.