Duke receives No. 2 seed
GREENSBORO – Duke’s stunning loss in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals led to a weekend of practice and, on Sunday, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Despite being No.1 in the Ratings Percentage Index and No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, the Blue Devils were placed in the same region as Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed for the entire NCAA Tournament.
Duke (27-5) will play Albany on Friday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Should the Blue Devils win, they would face either seventh-seeded Creighton or 10th seed Cincinnati on Sunday in the round of 32.
Duke, which finished second in the ACC regular-season standings, had its ACC Tournament stay halted abruptly with an 83-74 loss to Maryland on Friday night. Rather than competing for the ACC title the rest of the weekend at the Greensboro Coliseum, the Blue Devils spent Saturday and Sunday practicing in Durham.
“We didn’t anticipate being home practicing,” Duke senior center Mason Plumlee said. “We just came to the realization that if you don’t win at this point you wind up at home. That’s how it’s going to be next weekend, too.”
Duke’s resume includes wins over tournament teams Louisville, Ohio State, Virginia Commonwealth, Minnesota, Temple, Florida Gulf Coast and Davidson in non-conference play as well as N.C. State, Miami and North Carolina in ACC games. The Blue Devils are 11-2 against teams in the 68-team field, including a 3-1 record against teams seeded No.1 or No. 2 – Louisville, Miami and Ohio State.
NCAA Tournament committee chairman Mike Bobinski, the current athletics director at Xavier who will take over as Georgia Tech’s athletics director next month, said the committee discussed the No. 1 seeds for five days, including Sunday morning.
“It was a constant source of conversation,” Bobinski told CBS Sports. “We felt we had six teams in the running for No. 1 seeds.”
Duke, rated as the No. 6 team in the tournament after the Maryland loss, was in that conversation. ACC champion Miami, the No. 5 overall seed, barely fell below the No. 1 seed line.
Plumlee, though, said the Blue Devils are fine with where they are seeded and are glad to be playing as close to home as possible in Philadelphia.
“We’re not disappointed,” Plumlee said. “We earned our No. 2 seed. I think a lot of teams would like to be on our position. It’s nice to be staying on the East Coast.”
Albany (24-10) finished in fourth place in the America East Conference regular season but claimed the league’s automatic berth by upsetting top-seed Stony Brook, 61-59, and second-seeded Vermont, 53-49, to win the league tournament.
The Great Danes will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in the last 11 years.
Plumlee said the Blue Devils had two good days of practice on Saturday and Sunday before gathering at the University Club to watch the pairings announcement on television.
After being upset as a No. 2 seed last season, when 15th-seeded Lehigh won 75-70 in the NCAA Tournament at Greensboro, Duke knows it must be as mentally and physically read for Albany as possible.
“We are going to have a very disciplined week of practice,” Plumlee said. “We have to have a very hungry attitude coming in to this tournament.”