Duke finally lost a game this season with Ryan Kelly on the floor. Unfortunately for Duke's hope of getting a No. 1 seed, the loss came at the worst possible time.
The Blue Devils won't be playing this weekend after getting beat by Maryland 83-74 in the ACC tournament.The Terrapins took a nice lead early and even though the Blue Devils rallied to get back in the game, they trailed the entire second half. Duke was horrible from behind the 3-point line (4-for-25). It was not a good final look before the committee decides if the Blue Devils belong on the top line of the NCAA tournament bracket.
Maryland, meanwhile, got a victory it needed to stay relevant in the bubble conversation. The Terrapins might need to do more, but their resume isn't complete for submission quite yet.
Duke's argument for a No. 1 seed now becomes one of the more interesting debates for the committee.
If injuries are taken into account, the Blue Devils have a great case. Early in the season with its full squad, Duke beat Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, Louisville, Ohio State, Temple and Davidson. It went undefeated in non-conference play. That's what the resume of a top seed should look like.
Then came the Kelly injury. Duke went 9-4 without him. But when Kelly returned, Duke made its case again that at full strength it is one of the elite teams in the nation. It beat Miami (the Hurricanes beat Kelly-less Duke by 27 on Jan. 23), Virginia Tech and won by 16 at North Carolina. Then came the off night on Friday against Maryland. Duke goes into selection Sunday a 27-4 record. Perhaps just as importantly, it went 18-1 with its preferred lineup on the floor.
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Miami will be interested to see what happens with Duke. Miami won the regular season title. It advanced further in the ACC tournament than Duke. If the Hurricanes win the ACC tournament and Duke still gets a No. 1 seed over the Hurricanes, expect a lot of complaining from Miami. It's hard to justify giving a team that won a regular-season and tournament championship a worse seed than another team from its conference. Although, any team that lost to Florida Gulf Coast, Indiana State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, as Miami did, can't complain too much if it doesn't get the seed it is hoping for.
Indiana seems locked into a No. 1 seed. So does Gonzaga. Georgetown is likely out of the No. 1 seed mix after losing to Syracuse. Louisville and Kansas have a good argument, especially with a conference tournament title. If the committee decides to put an ACC team on the top line, who has the better argument, Miami or Duke?
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