2017 March Madness: Duke's No. 1-seed snub suddenly looks like a blessing

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Duke has been on the right side of the karmic balance for two weeks now, so whatever they’re doing -- they need to keep doing it.

After the Blue Devils navigated a four-games-in-four-days gauntlet of terror to win the ACC Tournament, many experts pegged them as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- a preseason No. 1 team that had gone through an up-and-down season but was peaking at the absolute right time.

It turns out, at least according to the committee, that Duke was never even in consideration for a top seed, and they earned a No. 2. Many called it a snub, saying that Duke was the most dangerous team in the tournament, and Vegas agreed -- the Blue Devils entered the tournament as the favorite to win it all.

Now, however, it looks like not getting a No. 1 seed is the best thing that could have happened to Coach K and the Dukies.

After Villanova’s upset loss to Wisconsin, Duke is sitting pretty as the top seed left in the East Region. If the Blue Devils can get past No. 7 South Carolina on Sunday, the top remaining seeds would likely be No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 Florida, neither of which looked particularly impressive in their first-round games. In fact, either or both might be upset on Sunday, making Duke’s path even less intimidating.

Meanwhile if you look over at the South Region, No. 1 seed North Carolina (whose place Duke would have presumably taken had they earned a No. 1 seed since the committee likely wouldn’t pick two ACC teams) is looking at a potential Regional Final matchup with either UCLA or Kentucky, both of which are more than capable of winning the whole thing.

UCLA was being considered for a No. 1 seed before a disappointing loss in the Pac-12 Tournament, and has an offense capable of putting up 90-plus points on any given night. And Kentucky is, well, Kentucky -- stocked with blue-chip talent that is downright scary when it all comes together.

North Carolina fans are shaking in their Carolina blue Jordans, while the Cameron Crazies are dancing in the streets. It goes back to what our Gary Parrish stated before the tournament started -- it’s more about matchups than seeds.

Villanova’s loss eliminated any real on-paper threat to Duke, and now it will be up to the Blue Devils not to let the tournament’s easiest path to the Final Four cause them to lose concentration.

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