Duke Riding High Heading Into The Dance

The Blue Devils have been riding a wave of emotion ever since they waxed arch rival North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Now, as a number one seed, Duke will look to reverse some recent March woes.

Duke has been riding a wave of emotion in the past two weekends, drubbing North Carolina to secure a share of the ACC regular-season title and then winning three games in three days to claim the ACC tournament crown in front of adoring fans in Greensboro, N.C.

"We're still celebrating, but this isn't the peak of our season," forward Lance Thomas said. "It's back to work. There's one more championship to get."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has a pretty good idea of how to parlay regular-season success into more fun in the postseason. This marks the 11th time the Blue Devils have been tagged as a No. 1 regional seed.

And while Duke made it through the conference tournament, the Blue Devils were witnesses to the dangers that can show up for high-seeded teams. Duke was the only team among the top five seeds in the ACC tournament to win a game.

With that backdrop, the Blue Devils will push aside the euphoria of winning the conference in order to concentrate on the NCAA Tournament.

"This definitely prepares us," guard Nolan Smith said. "It gets us in this feeling of winning championships. It's such a great feeling that everybody wants to have. Going into the next tournament, we know what it takes to win these games."

Duke is the only team unsure of its first opponent. The Blue Devils must wait to see who wins Tuesday night's opening-round game between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop.


--Duke's 18th ACC tournament championship is the most in league history, one ahead of North Carolina. The Blue Devils won three games without facing a team higher than a sixth seed. The last two games -- against Miami and Georgia Tech -- were decided by a total of seven points. It marked the first time this season that Duke had back-to-back victories by single-digit margins.

--Duke takes on the winner of the opening-round game between Winthrop and Arkansas Pine-Bluff. If it's Winthrop of the Big South Conference, it will be Duke's fourth opponent of the season from the Big South. The Blue Devils opened the season against Coastal Carolina, and later met Radford and Gardner-Webb. All those games were at home.

--Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is 71-22 in the NCAA Tournament, the most victories for any coach.

COACH: Mike Krzyzewski, 30th year at Duke, 26th year in NCAA Tournament.

KEYS TO VICTORY: As a No. 1 seed, Duke is in great shape for its first-round game, but there will be things for the Blue Devils to work on. One area that seemed glaring during their final two games of the ACC tournament was the number of shot-clock violations and rushed shots as the shot clock wound down. The Blue Devils might have become too predictable against familiar opponents, so perhaps seeing teams they don't normally play will help in that area. Nothing happened during the conference tournament to diminish the notion that the Blue Devils rely on the big three scoring threats of G Jon Scheyer, F Kyle Singler and G Nolan Smith.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know I broke some things, but I had a soft landing." -- F Kyle Singler, on his first-half crash into ESPN broadcasters courtside as he chased a loose ball in the ACC tournament final. It took time to re-arrange the press row, but Singler didn't seem affected. He played a game-high 39 minutes.


SCOUTING REPORT: Duke must wait until Tuesday night's Arkansas-Pine Bluff- Winthrop game to learn of its opponent for Friday's first-round game. Regardless of the opposition, Duke will have an significant advantage in talent, although coach Mike Krzyzewski, naturally, will caution his team to not overlook such opponents because they'll have a championship mindset by having earned the automatic bid to the tournament from their respective leagues. Playing in a Friday-Sunday pod is probably a fringe benefit for Duke, which played three days in a row in completing a three-game run Sunday through the ACC tournament.


  • Duke 57, Virginia 46 (ACC tournament quarterfinal)
  • Duke 77, Miami 74 (ACC tournament semifinal)
  • Duke 65, Georgia Tech 61 (ACC tournament final)

  • vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff or Winthrop, Friday, March 19, NCAA Tournament, South Region first round


--G Nolan Smith has had some rough first halves on offense this season, but he was strong against Georgia Tech in the opening half of the ACC tournament final. He scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half. The 16 points marked his highest point total of the tournament. If there was a drawback, it was he was only 2-for-4 on free throws in the tournament, and he never made it to the foul line in the title game.

--F Kyle Singler wrapped up a stellar ACC tournament by being named the event's Most Valuable Player. He averaged nearly 22 points per game and his 14-for-16 free-throw shooting in the final provided clutch points. The free throws set a tournament record for a game.

--G Andre Dawkins gave Duke an offensive boost in the first half of the ACC final against Georgia Tech, scoring seven points. He hadn't scored at all in the first two tournament games, and he hadn't scored that many points in a game since Dec. 31 against Pennsylvania. His scoring outburst included a drive through the lane for a dunk, only the freshman's second slam of the season.

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