For most, the 1999 season will be remembered for two things. First, that year’s team was the best Duke team to not win a title. It also was the year when Duke basketball fell back to earth, joining the rest of college basketball, to watch its best players go bye-bye early to the NBA.
For me though, while 1999 was significant, it was actually 1996 when Duke first lost a player early to the NBA…a smart, athletic 17-year-old from Lower Merion High School, that reminded many of a young Jordan, passed on Duke. You might have heard of him, Kobe Bryant?
While never officially offered a scholarship, Kobe made it quite clear, if he decided to go to college, he would attend Duke University. In the end though, he picked the NBA and the rest is history.
Since then, the Blue Devils (like every other school) has had to adjust to this simple fact, kids aren’t going to stay four years. However, since I have nothing better to do with my time, I wondered what the Duke roster would have looked like over the years if kids did stay all four years.
Filed under: Duke's Demise
The Big Lead doesn’t want to go overboard on Duke’s demise, which makes us happy. As a loyal fan, I’m not ready to throw in the towel quite yet either. Obviously Duke has been down (in regard to the Blue Devil’s standards), falling clearly behind North Carolina as the big daddy in the ACC.
We can certainly dive into the details of why this year’s Duke class is only the second in Coach K’s tenure to not crack the final four, but first, we have to state the obvious, college basketball doesn’t have great teams anymore. With so many great players either skipping to the pros (most recently, as a one-and-done), parity rules the day.
Duke has suffered, as has lots of other schools, from this. If kids stayed three to four years like they did 15-20 years ago, the whole college basketball landscape would be different. Put it this way, Shaun Livingston would have been a senior point guard for Duke this season.
Filed under: Duke Game | Tags: Duke, NCAA Tournamet, Second Round, West Virginia
Someday, someway, someone will have to explain to me how Duke missed 17 -straight three point shots. Tired legs? No reason for them to be tired. Great West Virginia defense? Nope. Almost all those missed 3s were wide open looks.
As the nation rejoices at another early exit by Duke, look for all the experts to come out tonight and play the ‘told you so’ game, “If Duke doesn’t hit their threes, they won’t win.” Of course, if any team doesn’t hit their shots, they won’t win their game, but what do I know? Against West Virginia, threes weren’t the only problem. After starting 13-13 at the free throw line, Duke missed eight free throws in the second half. Huge.
You want the real reason for this defeat? Rebounding. West Virginia out-rebounded Duke 45-19 for the game. Let that number stick in your head for a moment. West Virginia had 26 more rebounds! They had an 18-4 advantage in offensive rebounds. Because of this, they took 12 more shots, which is pretty important when they only made six more shots for the game. Oh, and before everyone says, this is because Duke is too small…West Virginia’s top three guards out-rebounded Duke by themselves 20-19.
Overall, not too bad a first round in the NCAA Tournament. Outside of Tampa, Florida, not too many upsets. Speaking of Tampa, what the hell were they putting in the water down there? Two 12s and two 13-seeds won. Let’s take a quick look at what I got right (not much) and what I got wrong (plenty).
AS for upsets, I called the Nova, Siena and Davidson. Overall I went 24-8 (putting me tied for 70th at The Big Lead bracket challenge), but overall I have two loses that have killed me. Obviously, I blew USC. I had them going to the Final Four, yet they couldn’t even get by Kansas State. I thought their amazing defense would be the ace up their sleeve. My bad.
\First, let me state, although I got to watch the whole game, my eyes and mind weren’t always focused. I had my fantasy baseball draft Thursday night. Obvi0usly when it got late and Duke was unable to put Belmont away, I was focused enough to realize how pathetic this game was. The Blue Devils got outplayed, it really is that simple. If it wasn’t for the late-game heroics of Gerald Henderson, then Duke would be the laughing stock of college basketball. I did feel a little better today when I watch #2 Tennessee struggle in their first round game. Let’s not waste anymore time and move to the quick hits.
- Thank God for Gerald Henderson. He took over at the end, singlehandedly winning this game. Like we talked about before, last year’s team struggle because no one was willing to be ‘the guy’. Last year, Henderson would have passed on that drive and someone else would have been stuck throwing up a desperation three. Although this team may not be the most talented in the field, they do have guys who are not afraid to make a play when it is needed and that’s what Gerald did.
Filed under: NCAA Tournament Predictions | Tags: Final Four, National Title, NCC Tournament Predictions, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, UCLA, USC
It looks like we made it…all the way to the Final Four. It’s been a long road of clueless predictions and now we’re down to four teams and three games. If you missed all the fun and excitement of my earlier predictions, then you’ve really wasted your life. However, thanks to these things called ‘links’, you can go back and rediscover these so-called predictions.
It’s been a wild ride, so lets go ahead and put this baby to bed.
It looks like the folks over at Sports Illustrated don’t think too highly of your Duke Blue Devils. Not one of their experts has Duke surviving pass the round of sixteen.
I know how you feel, kid.
The great irony…people look at this photo and think this kid is crying because Duke was going to lose to Maryland in 2004. That’s not correct. He’s crying because his dad just informed him that he just lost his college fund betting on this game and he now has to go to college at Maryland.
Filed under: ACC Tournament | Tags: Elight Eight, NCAA Predictions, Sweet 16
Welcome to the Sweet 16 & Elite Eight portion of our predictions. Did you miss the first two rounds? What the hell? You’re all worthless and weak. Now stop right here and take a journey back to our first round predictions and the second round predictions. Hurry back though.
So far, my Ballsy predictions didn’t foresee too many first round upsets. We kissed goodbye a #4 (Vanderbilt) and a #5 (Clemson), as well as all four seven seeds (Butler, Miami, Gonzaga, West Virginia), but in the second round we witnessed #1 seed North Carolina fall to Indiana, two 3′s (Stanford, Wisconsin), as well as a minor upset when #4 Connecticut fell to the Drake.
Let’s move along, shall we?
THE SWEET SIXTEEN
#8 Indiana over #5 Notre Dame
After taking down #1 seeded and overall number one North Carolina, it wouldn’t be such a shock to see the Hoosiers bask in their own glory and lay an egg against Notre Dame. However, in front of a still-hostile Tar Heels’ crowd, the Hoosiers will shut down Harandogy and his fellow Irishmen. Somewhere in America, Coach Sampson will either be laughing his evil ass off at the NCAA or preparing to hang himself with a stiff rope.
Filed under: ACC Tournament | Tags: Duke Blue Devils, Lady Luck, NCAA Tournament
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.
Filed under: ACC Tournament | Tags: NCAA Tournament Predictions, Second Round
Yesterday I gave you a taste of my ballsy predictions with a little first round action. Only Jesus knows if I will be right. I’d ask him myself, but we’re kind of on a ‘break’ right now.
So far, not too many shockers from the first two days of tournament basketball (St. Mary over Miami, South Alabama over Butler, #12 Nova over Clemson, and a few more). Will day two have more surprises?
A quick reminder, this is how I’m laying the predictions out this week:
- Monday: First Round Predictions
- Tuesday: Second Round Predictions
- Wednesday: Sweet 16 & Elite Eight Predictions
- Thursday: Final Four & Title Game Predictions
#8 Indiana over #1 North Carolina
I know what you’re going to say…a Duke fan knocking the Tar Heels out early. Bias prick! Over the last few weeks, I’ve been ready to hand the title to the Heels. I thought they were the best team all year long and they got even better after Lawson went down. Sometimes though, there are match ups that stand out to me and this is one that does. Three weeks ago, the Hoosiers were a top-ten team and a popular final four prediction…then Sampson got the boot. Since then, they’ve been sleepwalking. Something in my guts tells me that Indiana will come out motivated. With D.J. White being a senior and Gordan being a one-and-done, this is Indiana’s one shot. The second round game against Carolina is their title game. Don’t feel too bad Tar Heel fans, Psycho T will be back for his senior season and will lead them to the Final Four next year.