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: Dec 28, 2010
Posted on: January 30, 2011 7:37 pm

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

Even though I'm Big East bias after the thrashing the Blue Devils was just handed to by St. John's, I still feel some how some way Duke will do what they did last season by lucking into a #1 seed.  Whether they win the title this year remains to be seen, but the biggest blueprint was sent on how to beat them.  If the shots are not falling, then you got'em.  Right now they are 19-2, both road losses but there is a ton of basketball left to be played.  As of now I feel they will get a #1 seed, but they can't take too many more of those road losses in conference play, to me that is not impressing the selection committee and you have to not only be able to play on the road but win as well.  And having Kyrie Irving back wouldn't hurt either, but they'll have to prepare as if they know they won't have him for the rest of the season.

Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 7:36 pm

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

Heels, I totally agree with your viewpoint on it is to early to get excited about seeding.  Your note on Michigan States' struggle so far is similar to what the Tar Heels went through after they won the National Championship.  It is impossible to make sense out of such things.  Whether it is a psychological breakdown by State or simply everyone else raising the level of their game for a mere 40 minutes to kick butt and briefly feel good about their mediocre team, it is hard to pinpoint.  Going to a final four 50% of the time in the past what 12 years is a target everyone wants to take down.   Maybe it is some of both.  Duke may be starting to feel it now as the target is on their backs, they aren't as healthy as they would like.  When you look at the Butler's, the MSU's that were 5 or 6 seeds and ending up in a final four, what does it really matter at this point of the season to be ranked as a number one seed?

Just make the tournement Michigan State and Duke and lets see what happens then.  It all makes a lot of good material for Mr. Parrish to exploit...


Since: Jan 18, 2007
Posted on: January 30, 2011 7:25 pm

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

Duke had a bad game and everyone always makes a big deal when they lose. It is because Duke is Duke! As bad as they played today, if they would have hit near their 3-point percentage for the season, they could have possibly won the game. They didn't and they lost. It happens to everyone. The two things that come out of this game are (1) they don't go to #2 in the polls and maybe they drop to 6th or so but who cares. (2) it is a major blow to a "bubble" team in the ACC because it hurts the SOS ranking of the ACC.

What gets me is all the blogs and media saying how Duke is in trouble. If their team had the record Duke does this season (other then Ohio State) they would be very satisfied with what has happend so far. They always point to some "true road game" B.S. stating that Duke has problems on the road. A lot of teams do lose on the road no matter how good they are. The fact is, Duke wins at nuetral sites and that is where tourney games are played. Today Duke showed Nolan Smith needs help at the point and since Coach K is a genius I'm sure he will have a plan B just for this problem. Nobody knows what will happen in March. My bet would be that Duke last longer then most, if not all teams in the tourney.

Since: Nov 12, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2011 7:13 pm

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

The NCAA and CBS execs will insist Duke get a #1 seed, in the east, with the easiest draw possible.   

I'll bet a $1 on that.   Write it down.

Since: Nov 25, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:44 pm

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

I don't see much point in speculating this early.  It is only almost February.  I mean, sure... it's good fun but who expected Michigan State to struggle so mightlily?  Who expected that Duke would have lost two games so far?  Who would have expected Syracuse is free falling?  Who would have expected that Carolina would have been absolutely humiliated by Georgia Tech, play well enough to keep the streak against Clemson going, squeak by Maimi and then blow out NCSU? How about Kansas loosing at home?  Or Ohio State looking as good as they have.  How about BYU or San Diego State?  We've still got the second half of conference play and then the conference tournaments where the real fun happens.  I want to see another six overtime epic.

Anyways, speculation is fun but pointless.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:41 pm

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

Let Dicky V and ESPN have a say in it, and DOOK would  get top overall seed in the tourney. For that matter, the ESPN monkeys would probably give them a bye until the championship game. I was astonished last year what a cake bracket DOOK was placed in- money and viewership seem to pave the way So, the short answer is yes, no matter how much they don't deserve it, DOOK could be a number 1 seed, or a number 2 seed with a cushy bracket.

Since: Jul 30, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:21 pm

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

It's still pretty early to start discussing number 1 seeds right now for the NCAA Tournament, and there are no real clear cut front runners aside from Ohio State who still has some tough games remaining on their schedule. However, I do agree with Gary in the respect that Duke will have a tough time getting a number one come Selection Sunday. Ohio State and Kansas seem likely to get a one if they continue their stellar play, and Pittsburgh is a consistent team and should be in the running for a one also.  Then you have UConn who has the most wins over ranked teams and over teams in the top 50 RPI in the nation, and both Pitt and UConn could get even more signature wins with their grueling Big East schedules. Also San Diego State could sneak up on people if they can win out, and Texas has an outside shot at a one if they can win the Big 12. I'm not saying Duke isn't a Final Four or National Title contender, but there are a good handfull of teams that can give the Blue Devils a run for their money during the NCAA Tournament. Teams from the Big East, Big Ten, and Big 12 will be more battle tested than Duke and could knock them out earlier than expected. There is definitely no clear cut front runner for the National Title at this point in the season, and there are at least half a dozen teams that could be in the championship game in early April.

Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:17 pm

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

It's funny how Parrish parenthetically tried to head-off conference comparisons but alas, to no avail.  Like individual teams, there are points during the year when one conference seems much better than the others. And a conference win on the road is tough everywhere (I'm still scratching my head at Villanova and UConn's losses).  Also, some teams for unknown reasons morph into a fierce lion at home (Penn State?).  All the BCS conferences have 3-4 teams that could easily make the Sweet 16 - and the Big East probably has twice that many.  All that said, it is the out-of-conference games that form these conclusions.  Duke's loss today could be understandable had it happened before Christmas, but losing now (and the way they did) should hurt them when seeds are given.

Since: Dec 9, 2006
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:14 pm

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

Amen brother!!!

Since: Mar 7, 2008
Posted on: January 30, 2011 6:13 pm

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

Only in theory can they. After the past three games it will be obvious to all their opponents that a good team can beat them using a full court press, dribble drive penetration and pressure on Smith. Unless they shoot the lights out with threes you should come out on top. Defensively they are mediocre. Lavin outcoached K so will others. 

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