Speaking to ESPN after the New Orleans Pelicans‘ 135-115 win over the LA Clippers, Zion was asked about his alma mater missing the tournament. Zion bluntly answered that he isn’t interested in watching the NCAA Tournament without Duke.
“Trick question,” Zion said when asked who he likes in the tournament. “If Duke ain’t in, I’m not interested.”
Zion Williamson wasn’t even born the last time Duke outright missed the NCAA Tournament. Their last miss came all the way back in 1995 following a 13-18 season – one of only three losing seasons in the last 40-plus years.
His lone NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2019, where he led Duke to the Elite Eight before being eliminated by Michigan State.
Zion: "If Duke ain't in, I'm not interested" pic.twitter.com/5pW7VHPnHw
— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) March 15, 2021
But Duke’s exclusion from the NCAA Tournament was pretty much expected. They were never more than three games over .500 at any point in the season and went 11-11 in the regular season.
Duke’s most realistic show at making the tournament was winning the ACC Tournament, or at least reaching the Championship Game. But a COVID-19 outbreak hours before the quarterfinals effectively ended their season.
Zion Williamson isn’t the only one disappointed in how Duke’s 2020-21 season was pulled out from under them. But there were far more blown opportunities in the regular season to complain about.
Will Duke make the NCAA Tournament in 2022?