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If you were hoping for Duke (11-8, 9-6 in ACC) to miss March Madness, it’s looking more and more like you’re not going to get your wish, especially after the Blue Devils beat Syracuse Monday night 85-71. It was Duke’s fourth consecutive win, and now Coach K’s team, which was left for dead a few weeks ago, is now over .500 in quad two games and find themselves entering the bubble discussion.
Duke will face Louisville Saturday at Cameron Indoor and then finish up the season with road games at Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
In his latest bracket, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Blue Devils No. 71 and one of the first four out of the tournament with Indiana, Xavier, Minnesota and Colorado State as the last four in.
Let’s stop and think about this for a minute. When you throw out all the bracket experts, the talking heads, the Twitter nerds who run all sorts of numbers, etc., etc., a different picture of the NCAA business emerges. You know how Ohio State ended up in the College Football Playoff? Because ESPN needs to make money since they paid a whole bunch of money to broadcast the football Final Four. Yeah, as you guys all know, Duke is that team to college basketball and the deal Viacom/CBS/Turner has with the NCAA.
I don’t care how many quad two, quad one, quad 89 wins Duke has as we head into March 2021. CBS already missed out on one March Madness. If Duke is on the bubble, as it appears they now are since Lunardi has them as a first four out, then Duke is getting into this tournament and they’ll be playing in primetime.
OutKick’s Greg Couch wrote exactly this on Tuesday, explaining that bracket experts are off living in their own fantasy land thinking a committee would leave Coach K out of the tourney.
Duke’s on the bubble and may need to win just one of their final three regular season games to make it 100% official. Lunardi seems to be laying low by not having Duke in, but he knows what’s coming.
“They take another step forward but not all the way to the destination. For me the Blue Devils go from ‘Next Four Out’ to ‘First Four Out,’” Lunardi said this week after the Blue Devils beat Syracuse. “They’re three spots away on our at-large board as we get ready to post a new bracket (Tuesday). So Duke gets a good win, not a great win. The labels sound great: Duke. Syracuse. Monday night. But we’re talking about two bubble teams that just played a game to stay alive and Duke won it.”