Duke basketball must keep run alive for NCAA Tournament hopes

Duke basketball guard DJ Steward (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball guard DJ Steward (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Duke basketball
Duke basketball (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball must keep its run alive in the ACC Tournament for its NCAA hopes. 

Just when you thought the Duke basketball team would be left for dead, the Blue Devils (13-11, 9-9 ACC) rattle off two straight games in the ACC Tournament and set up a pivotal showdown in the quarterfinals.

It’ll be the third game in as many days for Mike Krzyzewski’s team while its opponent, the Florida State Seminoles (15-5, 11-4 ACC), will be playing its first game of the tournament.

Florida State is coming off of a road loss to Notre Dame to end the regular season, but the Seminoles look poised to make a run deep into March thanks to head coach Leonard Hamilton.

Duke will certainly have its hands full with the balance and firepower of Florida State, but the Blue Devils are also seeing consistency from their roster, specifically from freshmen Mark Williams and DJ Steward.

Williams is coming off a career performance in the 70-56 victory over Louisville (13-7, 8-5 ACC) in the second round with 23 points and 19 rebounds while Matthew Hurt poured in a quiet 20 points for the Blue Devils.

Duke and Florida State did not meet in the regular season because of COVID-19 issues with the Seminoles.

The Blue Devils had traveled down to Tallahassee only to find out the game was postponed, and later canceled, hours before tipoff before boarding the plane and returning to Durham the next morning.

Duke basketball NCAA Tournament hopes riding on Thursday night matchup

Bracketologists are all over the spectrum when it comes to the Blue Devils.

Some say Duke needs to win the ACC Tournament in order to make the NCAA Tournament. Some say the Blue Devils must make it to the conference championship. And then others think a win over Florida State could potentially put Duke in the Field of 68.

The Seminoles not only present a Top-15 opponent but also an all-important Quadrant 1 opportunity.

ALSO READ: Duke not impacted by COVID-19 pause within football program

Should Duke emerge victoriously, it would either meet North Carolina or Virginia Tech in the ACC Semifinals. And talk about the at-large resume of the Blue Devils would never be higher.

With the season hanging in the balance, we look at the keys to victory for the Duke basketball program.