Imagine it (or dread it): Mike Krzyowski lifts the NCAA championship trophy on April 4, a story that ends with a legendary career in college basketball coaching that spanned 47 seasons and, in this scenario, would include a sixth National title. And Duke Blue Devils could hand him over to him. The 2021-22 Coach K edition is currently at the top of the ACC standings – and 3 expected seeds Come Sunday selection.
Before the start of the post-season rally, Wednesday night’s trip to Charlottesville to face the Virginia Cavaliers (7pm ET, ESPN and ESPN App) presents an opportunity to avenge the Blue Devils, who lost to UVa by just one point at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 7. For Tony Bennett’s team, meanwhile, this game is crucial to the hopes of the 2019 NCAA Champions, who are also mathematically alive for what will be their fourth ACC title in five years.
With that in mind, ESPN’s college basketball team consisting of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Joe Lunardi gave their predictions for Wednesday’s Sonic Blockbuster game, as well as their assessment of the two teams’ vulnerability after the season ended.
Mark Williams wakes up for jam with the help of Paolo Panchero
Where are roosters on your current shortlist of national title contenders? What single blue devil do you think will be most important to propel this team’s title over the next six weeks?
Medcalf: For me, Duke could win the National Championship. But I don’t think they are in the first group yet.
The list of teams that could win a national championship is much shorter than it was a month ago. Those with a serious shot: Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Arizona are starting to separate themselves from the pack. Duke, Auburn and Bordeaux are next. I think the National Champion will probably come out of that group of teams. Nothing against Baylor and Kansas, but I think both could fail to reach the fourth final this season.
I think the most important Duke player will be Paulo Banchero. When we think of the NCAA Championship, we focus on the stars. Players play an important role and sometimes lead their teams in major competitions, but this is a critical moment for the selection of the top 10 players in the NBA draft this summer. The Duke will go as far as Banchero can take them. Oscar ChiboyAnd the Ochai AgbajiAnd the Chet HolmgrenAnd the Benedict MathurinAnd the Jabbari Smith And the Jaden Ivy Everyone can stand between him and the Fine Four. Banchero just has to match that star power and show up when the lights come on in March to give Duke a chance to end Coach K’s reign with a national title.
Borzello: I think Gonzaga, Kentucky and Arizona are probably the top contenders for the title, and then the Duke tops the next group, that second division. The Blue Devils ceiling is as high as any team in college basketball because of their next-level talent, ability to defend ball and edge and the presence of Banchero. I also think they found something to work with Trevor Keeles And the Wendell Moore Jr. Handle most of the toy industry duties and AJ Griffin In the starting lineup instead of Jeremy Roach. Moore and Keels are capable kickers and shooters, while Griffin is an elite shooter. It also gives Duke one of the biggest teams in college basketball.
It sounds obvious, but I think the title hopes of the Blue Devils rest on Banshiro. He’s the best player on the team, the guy who’s likely to have the ball in his hands in late-game situations. And that was kind of a problem for Duke, who has topped the last 65 seconds of all four of her losses this season. Banchero’s outside shot hasn’t come as expected so far this season, and his mid-range game has been inconsistent as well; If his jump jacket starts dropping constantly, he becomes pretty much unguarded at the college level. A three-tier scorer of his size and passing ability? Yes, that’s the ultimate X-factor in March.
Gasaway: When the NCAA reviewed the arc last weekend, we learned that the selection committee had been linked to the Blue Devils as the latest number two seed. feel right. This is a strong contender for the national title, but not necessarily of the highest caliber. So let’s put Duke in the “next four” among the potential champions. The interesting thing about this group is that, when they are young, they already play excellent defense. If you rank every attack and defense in the ACC as individual units in team play, Krzyzewski’s defense would be #1 by a healthy margin. (No. 2? Wake Forests D.)
With that in mind, I’ll take Mark Williams As the winner of the most important award for success. He’s a great defender, of course, but he and Paulo Panchero also do most of the defensive rebounds for a team that’s not all that great at rebounding defensively. In addition, part of Duke’s franchise in D was out of his control: ACC opponents wereted a lot of 3 seconds against the Blue Devils. When that changes, and it does, Williams doing his defensive paint job will become even more important.
Lonardi: It’s impossible to ignore the story of Coach K and the Blue Devils’ NCAA title swan song. But I haven’t bought it – at least not yet. It’s quite possible that Duke will turn the table and win the ACC, but what does that really mean? This year, it will be the equivalent of winning the Mountain West or perhaps the American Prize. Good, sure, but nowhere near great.
When exactly have the Blue Devils been “cool” this season? As in, great enough to win a national championship? The win over Gonzaga, for sure, comes close to a very early win over Kentucky. In North Carolina? Yes, but this was mitigated by the inconsistency of the opponent. Will Duke lose the National Champion in the otherwise healthy state of Florida? maybe. But those The Blues are not losing at home to Miami and certainly not again at home in this year’s edition of Virginia.
All this means that the Blue Devils are hardly on the list of contenders for the national championship. And this should be good news for Duke fans everywhere.
Did Virginia’s NCAA Championship Hopes End Without a Win on Wednesday? What is the equation for the Cavaliers victory over Duke?
Medcalf: We are having this conversation because of the respect that Tony Bennett has earned throughout his career. But if you ditch the brand name, you’ll be left with a team that income of the week ranking NET in the ’80s and a resume that includes losses against NC State, James Madison, and Navy. And I think most would agree that only a conference title would give the Cavaliers a chance at the NCAA Championship. I think that’s true for Virginia if they lose to Duke on Wednesday.
In their first match earlier this season, Wendell Moore Jr and Paulo Panchero combined to score 6-17. Bennett was always able to force the “other guys” to try and beat him, and he did so at Cameron Indoors three weeks ago. This was Duke’s only loss in nine matches. The Blue Devils are a more focused team now. But Virginia has been effective offensively in recent games, with Jayden Gardner Play some really nice basketball along the stretch. I think there’s a better chance for Virginia to disrupt the Duke stars again and win this game than going to Brooklyn and winning the ACC title. This sounds like a must-win match for Bennett’s team.
Medcalf score prediction: Duke 67, Virginia 60
Borzello: Tony Bennett’s club has done a commendable job even getting into the public conversation, winning five of his past six games – including road victories against Duke and Miami. But without another win over the Blue Devils on Wednesday (or a deep run in the ACC Championship), it’s hard to see a real chance for the Cavaliers to hear his name on Sunday specific. Summit wins over Duke and Providence are impressive, but the Cavaliers are still only 3-5 against first-quarter opponents, and they have three losses in the third quarter on top of that. NET in the 1980s, and their metrics are generally below average for a bubble team. So Virginia needs that win.
However, the Cavaliers also showed a couple of weeks ago that they have what it takes. So when you ask about the formula, they already know it, in theory: slow down the tempo, fill the track, force Duke to launch a perimeter jumper, take care of the ball and try to get Mark Williams into trouble. Forcing the Blue Devils to play fully in half of the field and mostly off the edge – making it difficult to generate consistent momentum – is the way to go on Wednesday. Easier said than done, of course.
BPredict the result of orzello: Duke 66, Virginia 58
Jayden Gardner with Bucket and 1
Gasaway: Yeah. Been completed. The win on the road against Duke and the victory on neutral ground over Providence look fantastic. The win in Miami was great too. Elsewhere on the profile, though, Virginia holds a record 3-3 in Quadrant 3 games, and a loss at home against the Blue Devils would drop this team to 17-11. Grid practically waves her arms and shouts that she is very suspicious of the Cavaliers; And for the group that beat the Blue Devils and Brothers, it’s surprisingly lackluster in terms of standard strength. They need that win – or run in the ACC Championship. If it comes down to it, the most valuable opponents to defeat may turn out to be Wake Forest, North Carolina, or, of course, Coach K’s men.
Gasaway score prediction: Duke 63, Virginia 59
Lonardi: Thank God for providence otherwise we wouldn’t even have this conversation. In all, Virginia features as an NIT team. And that is exactly what the Cavaliers will be, although a second win over the Duke will move the needle enough to keep the Cavaliers relevant through the ACC session.
Lonardi score prediction: Duke 68, Virginia 64
“Travel aficionado. Infuriatingly humble reader. Incurable internet specialist.”