Few would argue that this year’s Blue Devil squad is a serious title contender, despite the #2 seed. However, this team is still a lot better than last year. That hasn’t stopped though, every expert from calling Duke ‘overrated’ and predicting them to fall either in the second round or to Xavier in the Sweet 16.
Based on Duke’s performance since 2001, no one can really blame the ‘experts’ for making this prediction, but one thing we’ve learned is, you don’t have to be a great team to make it to the Final Four. Obviously if Duke can play some solid D and hit their 3′s, then they can beat a lot of teams, but one thing they really could use is some plain old luck…the one thing Duke hasn’t had over the years.
Disclaimer: Before going further, do understand, Duke has been a #1 seed so often, I’ve lost count, so I’m not making any excuses for their failures to not only win the title, but escape the round of sixteen. They constantly have been beaten by lower seeds each year since 2002, so this is no excuse for any prior tournament failings.
Back to my point…even good teams need a little bit of luck sometimes, and in any tournament it is always helpful when some little mid-major knocks out a real threat that you were suppose to play down the road. This type of luck has not fallen into Duke’s lap lately. In almost every tournament, they have almost always faced the team they were expected to face. Since the Blue Devil’s last championship in ’01, Duke has faced a double-digit seeded team after the first round only once (2003 when they faced a 11-seeded Central Michigan squad in the second round). Compare that to the Gators in 2006, who faced two #11′s after round one to win the title. In fact, let’s take a stroll down Blue Devil tournament history.
Since 1986, there have been ten times when Duke faced a sixth seed or lower after the first week of the tournament (rounds one & two). Guess what’s the one thing all ten of those years have in common? ALL TEN SEASONS, DUKE WENT TO THE FINAL FOUR.
Again, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, but when you have a team like we do this year, it would be nice if instead of playing Xavier in the Sweet 16, we would get a Cinderella like Georgia or Baylor. Wouldn’t life just be a little easier if Connecticut can take care of UCLA for us? Sure beating the Huskies is no sure thing, but I’d rather face them in the Elite Eight than the Bruins.
Anyhow, below is a list of the seedings Duke has faced since Coach K has been at Duke.
- When I write ‘No Upsets’ I referring to the fact that there were no upsets involving teams Duke ended up playing.
- Note: When a nine beats an eight or a five defeats a four, I do not consider that an upset.
2007 – 11th Seed (Knocked out in the first round)
2006 – 16th Seed, 8th Seed, 4th Seed (No upsets)
2005 – 16th Seed, 9th Seed, 5th Seed (No upsets)
2004 – 16th Seed, 8th Seed, 5th Seed, 7th Seed, 2nd Seed (One upset)
2003 -14th Seed, 11th Seed, 2nd Seed (One Upset)
2002 – 16th Seed, 8th Seed, 5th Seed (No upsets)
2001 – 16th Seed, 9th Seed, 4th Seed, 6th Seed, 1st Seed, 1st Seed (In the elite eight, Duke got to face a 6th seeded USC team)***
2000 – 16th Seed, 8th Seed, 5th Seed (No upsets)
1999 – 16th Seed, 9th Seed, 12th Seed, 6th Seed, 1st Seed, 1st Seed (Duke faced back-to-back low seeds in the regional).
1998 – 16th Seed, 8th Seed, 5th Seed, 2nd Seed (No Upsets)
1997 – 15th Seed, 10th Seed (One upset, but didn’t help)
1996 – 8th Seed (Lost in first round)
1995 – Missed Tournament
1994 – 15th Seed, 7th Seed, 6th Seed, 1st Seed, 2nd Seed, 1st Seed (One minor upset)
1993 – 14th Seed, 6th Seed
1992 – 1st Seed, 9th Seed, 4th Seed, 2nd Seed, 2nd Seed, 6th Seed (Caught a break in the title game)***
1991 – 15th Seed, 7th Seed, 11th Seed, 4th Seed, 1st Seed, 3rd Seed (One double digit seed in the Sweet 16)***
1990 – 14th Seed, 6th Seed, 7th Seed, 1st Seed, 4th Seed, 1st Seed (A couple upsets in the sweet 16 and the final four)
1989 – 15th Seed, 7th Seed, 11th Seed, 1st Seed, 3rd Seed (A Sweet 16 upset)
1988 – 15th Seed, 7th seed, 11th Seed, 1st Seed, 6th Seed (Two upsets)
1987 – 12th Seed, 13th Seed, 1st Seed (Major upset team in the second round)
1986 – 16th Seed, 8th Seed, 12th Seed, 7th Seed, 1st Seed, 2nd Seed (Duke’s easiest route to the final four)
1985 – 14th Seed, 11th Seed (Upset, but didn’t matter)
*** Duke championships