Blog Entry

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

Posted on: January 30, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 4:34 am
It's funny how the conversation consistently shifts in college basketball. For instance ...

Old question: Will Duke go undefeated this season?

New question: Will Duke even earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament this season?

We were debating the first question three weeks ago, but Florida State put it to rest on Jan. 12 with a 66-61 win over the Blue Devils. Now it's time to address the second question, and the answer might surprise you because it's possible the answer is that, no, the Blue Devils will not get a No. 1 seed because they're going to be lacking quality wins to offset bad losses like the blowout loss they took Sunday at St. John's.

Final score: St. John's 93, Duke 78.

And I don't care where St. John's sits in the RPI, it's a bad loss when you lose by 15 points to a team that had already lost eight games, including games to St. Bonaventure and Fordham. Can it be explained? Sure. The Blue Devils were 5-of-26 from 3-point range while committing 17 turnovers; good luck beating anybody of quality with those stats. So, yeah, I understand why Duke lost Sunday. What I'm having a more difficult time understanding is how the Blue Devils are going to earn a No. 1 seed with no great wins and at least two questionable losses.

That's the real problem with the ACC being down in relation to Duke.

(Contrary to what some would have you believe, Duke didn't lose to St. John's on Sunday because the ACC is weak and the Big East is great any more than St. John's lost to St. Bonaventure last month because the Big East is great and the Atlantic 10 is whatever. One, quite simply, has nothing to do with the other. Duke lost to St. John's on Sunday because Duke is a flawed team that played poorly and St. John's is a better-than-its-record team that played well. As for the Big East and ACC in general, the bottom line is this: The Big East is awesome and the ACC stinks. But those are two things we knew yesterday, i.e., before St. John's-Duke even tipped. My advice: Don't ever draw grand conclusions about leagues from the outcome of any one game ... unless it's a football game between SEC and Big Ten members. In that case, feel free to draw whatever conclusion you like. But I digress ...)

The lack of quailty in the ACC won't "fail to prepare" Duke for the 2011 NCAA tournament any more than the lack of quality in the Horizon League failed to prepare Butler for the 2010 NCAA tournament. But what it might do is prevent Duke from earning a No. 1 seed because the quality wins just aren't going to be available. The Blue Devils beat Marquette, Kansas State, Michigan State and Butler early, but only the Marquette win can reasonably be considered a quality win now. Making things worse is that no team on Duke's past or future schedule -- except for maybe Marquette and/or North Carolina -- figures to be ranked when the AP poll is updated Monday. So whereas Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Kansas and Texas still have plenty of chances to stack nice wins, all Duke can really do is stack OK wins or bad losses.

That's a tough spot.

Does it mean Duke can't win the national title?

Of course it doesn't mean that.

It's important to remember Duke was 17-4 and coming off a 12-point loss to Georgetown on this day last season, and the Blue Devils ended up winning that national title, which is why dismissing them as a legitimate candidate this season because of what happened Sunday would be equal parts premature and stupid. But what's neither premature nor stupid is to wonder whether a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is possible. If it doesn't happen, it won't necessarily be because the Blue Devils aren't good enough. Rather, it'll likely be rooted in the fact that their body of work will lack quality wins because their schedule doesn't provide many, if any, opportunities to record them.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Duke, St. John's

Since: Oct 8, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 5:08 pm

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

The answer is yes. Also, they'll somehow become the #1 overall seed in the tournament and get the easiest region to play in like last year. Make sure you give Ohio St. the hardest region because all they've done so far is go undefeated in a better conference. Makes total sense. 

Since: Feb 1, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2011 5:01 pm

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

I am a big Duke fan but you could see this coming. They are in the middle of conference play. They go on the road against a team that needed a big win against a team everyone plays harder against and Duke thinking ahead to Maryland next Wednesday. On a neutral court Duke would easily beat this team 8 out of 10 times.

Since: Feb 9, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 4:59 pm

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

Poor is a generous way of saying they flat out Sucked today Steve!  Duke couldn't do anything right and they couldn't play defense and St. John's picked them apart.

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2011 4:57 pm

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

Hey Gary:

Another New Question: Are you still going to rank Michigan State in your top 25 and One? Or are you going to say ti was fopreshadowed by the common opponent analysis? Michigan blew out Oakland and played with Syracuse on the Road while MSU beat Oakland by one and was blown out by Syracuse on a neutral court.

And another new question: Ifthe NCAA only takes 6 teams from te big ten will the 6th team be Penn St. or Michigan St?

Since: Oct 21, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2011 4:49 pm

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

valid article.....duke is probably a top 5 sometimes top 10 team..... but REMEMBER THIS; if duke gets irving back, and this duke fans thinks they will, duke is immediately as good or better than any team in the country.  without him, we can beat any team on a hot shooting night and lose to a mediocre big east team (on the road) on a poor shooting night.

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