Typically, conference tournament week is when Duke tries to add another ACC Tournament title to its resume and boost its NCAA Tournament seeding.
This time around, things are a lot different. Duke enters the ACC Tournament with an 11-11 overall record and a 9-9 mark in conference play, losers of three-straight. The Blue Devils need a miracle to even reach the Big Dance.
Duke has not missed the NCAA Tournament under Mike Krzyzewski since 1995, but even Coach K knows the reality his team is facing. Tomorrow, when the ACC Tournament gets underway, the Blue Devils will be the No. 10 seed, facing off against Boston College.
At minimum, they’ll need to win four games in four days to reach the finals of the event and qualify for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“As we start our ACC Tournament tomorrow, we’ll play Boston College,” Krzyzewski said Monday, via 247Sports. “You know, for us to even have a dream of getting into the NCAA Tournament, we have to do an amazing job to get into this tournament. Quite frankly, we haven’t earned that right. Even if we had beaten North Carolina, I still think we’d need to do more because we lost close games, and you have to reward the teams that do it, not just the fact that we’ve done it as a program. You’ve got to do it.
“The beauty of the tournament is you’ve got to do it every year. You have to earn the right to be one of those 68 teams that have a chance to win the national title out of about 350. You know, we don’t have 80 teams out of 120, like in football, that go to bowl games. We have about 20% right? Whatever the percentage is — we need an analytics guy to put numbers in my ear.”
All in all, this has been an atypically trying year for Duke, as the Blue Devils have dealt with cancelations from the COVID-19 pandemic, standout freshman Jalen Johnson opting out mid-year and overall sloppy and uninspired play throughout the season.
The conference tournament does provide a clean slate for everybody, but Duke will need to get quite hot in order to ensure its season lasts beyond this week.