College Basketball Experts Leaving Duke Out of 2016 NCAA Championship


The college basketball season officially kicks off this weekend, with Duke hosting their first regular season game tonight against Siena. Many different media outlets have released their preseason predictions for the year, and despite the Blue Devils being the reigning NCAA Men’s Basketball champions, adding the most talented freshman class, and having the best coach in the NCAA, virtually no analysts or experts are picking Duke to repeat as national champions.

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Out of all the college basketball experts from Bleacher Report, CBSESPN, and Sports Illustrated, no one picked Duke to win the 2016 NCAA title. The team also had no one projected to win a major NCAA individual award for the upcoming season (Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year) and even the number of people projecting Duke to make it back to the Final Four was very limited with the Blue Devils receiving 1 selection from a writer at CBS and 5 out of 28 analysts from ESPN.

The rival North Carolina Tar Heels are one of the main favorites to cut down the nets in 2016, along with former ACC foe Maryland. Other teams receiving projections to win this year’s championship include Kentucky, Kansas, Virginia, Michigan State from the sources above, and even Oklahoma and Villanova received a title nod from sports writers and analysts over the Blue Devils.

Last week in the Ball Durham Q&A Mailbag, we were asked if it we think it’s possible for Duke to repeat as champions and our staff believes it could definitely happen. One reason Duke is probably not a popular pick to win the title again this season is because of the major pieces and key players missing from last year’s team. Mike Krzyzewski is one of the few coaches to ever repeat Final Four appearances and college basketball championships, but 1992 he had most of the 1991 title team returning with lots of experience.

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This year’s team will return several key players from last year’s team with Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, and Marshall Plumlee all returning and expected to have bigger roles this season. But, there are also a lot of new players to integrate into the team and build chemistry with such as transfer Sean Obi as well as freshmen Brandon Ingram, Chase Jeter, Luke Kennard, Derryck Thornton, Justin Robinson, and Antonio Vrankovic.

Duke fans will have to wait and see how the season plays out to see if the Blue Devils can defend their national championship and raise the program’s 6th banner in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Last year’s team also wasn’t a very popular pick to with the NCAA Tournament at the start of the season, but they were able to win it all anyway. Duke will start the regular season tonight hosting Siena in the first game of the 2K Classic.