Ball Durham NCAA Tournament Preview

Mar 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; General view of a march madness logo during practice the day before the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the NCAA Tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; General view of a march madness logo during practice the day before the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the NCAA Tournament at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Check out our NCAA Tournament bracket preview, including Final Four and national champion picks and an interesting prediction for Duke.

Duke Basketball will kick off the 2017 NCAA Tournament with a round of 64 matchup against Troy Friday night. The experts here at Ball Durham got together to discuss the outlook for the Blue Devils and preview March Madness this year:

Must Read: Dick Vitale Previews Duke, NCAA Tournament With FanSided

How do you feel about Duke’s seeding and region in the NCAA Tournament?

Chris Brown: I felt the Blue Devils earned a 1-seed after their historic performance in the conference tournament, beating four ACC teams in four days to win the title. However, there are several advantage to being the 2-seed in the East. Duke has less distance to travel and won’t have to deal with changing time zones. Additionally, if they can make it through Greenville in a potential home game against South Carolina in the second round and the Tar Heel fans hanging around to cheer against Duke, they will advance to play the regional in Madison Square Garden aka Cameron North.

Chandler Ragsdale: I feel that the Blue Devils could have been considered as a 1-seed after winning the ACC. However, many on the selection committee do not take into account the conferences that these teams play in, because the ACC is arguably, if not, the best conference in college basketball. With that being said, Duke had as many losses as they did because of the rigorous schedule that they played. The Blue Devils had the most losses against top-50 teams, but also the most wins, and I think that this was overlooked. I like the region that they were placed in, and I can see them coming out of it, mainly because I believe either Virginia or Virginia Tech will knock out Villanova before the elite eight, and Duke can beat both of those teams.

Matt Mikhail: I can’t complain about the 2-seed despite the ACC Tournament championship. No team with 8 losses has ever received a 1-seed. Of course, not many teams have had the high number of quality wins that Duke boasts. However, 3 great days does not erase 3 months of inconsistent play. I am slightly annoyed that South Carolina, a 7-seed, basically gets home court advantage. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of UNC fans there too because they are also playing in Greenville. But this is March – there is a very good chance that Marquette and Wojo takes care of South Carolina in the first round.

Overall, Duke drew a favorable bracket. Villanova is tough – if we both survive until the Elite Eight. Baylor and SMU are good teams but Duke should be able to handle match-ups with either. In the end, if Duke plays the way they did last week, the Blue Devils should make a deep run. If they play the way they did the first 3 months, it could be a quick exit.

What’s one bold prediction for March Madness this year?

CB: At least three of the Final Four teams will be from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC was the toughest conference in college basketball this season, and added the most teams to the tournament. I like the chances of Duke and North Carolina making it to the national semifinals. Don’t sleep on Louisville as the 2-seed in the Midwest or 3-seed Florida State in the West. Both teams are great defensive squads and have depth, which can help them succeed in March. Also, Notre Dame is a sleeper as the West 5-seed, and is the only team in the country that advanced to the Elite Eight the past two postseasons.

CR: Duke and North Carolina will play in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. This will be even more amazing if it happens considering that it would have to be in the national title game. Both of these teams definitely have the potential to make it to the title game, and with the way both are playing right now, I don’t see why it won’t happen. North Carolina’s toughest game would be against Kansas in the Final Four, and Duke’s would be against whoever comes out of their region in the Elite Eight.

MM: Villanova will not make the Elite Eight. Villanova is the team that really drew the tough draw in this field (along with a few others such as UCLA and UK). An experienced Wisconsin team or a high-scoring Virginia Tech awaits Villanova in the second round. If they survive that, I expect they will play Virginia (Florida hasn’t played well since it lost John Egbunu to a season ending injury). Virginia played Villanova to the death on ‘Nova’s homecourt in January. As Duke fans know, it is tough to repeat. Villanova goes down early.

Final Four predictions

CB: Duke, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina

CR: Duke, Kansas, Notre Dame, North Carolina

MM: Duke, Notre Dame, Kansas, UCLA

National Champion

CB: Duke

CR: Duke

MM: Duke

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