March Madness preview: Duke versus the nation

Zion, RJ, and the Blue Devils ride into the tournament with a target on their back

Kevin Korbel
Sports Editor

With March Madness finally here, millions of people across the world are submitting brackets into their office or friends pool this month trying to prove that they can pick games better than Dan from accounting or their best friend, and the heavy favorite on everyone’s bracket are the Duke Blue Devils, led by freshman stars Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.

While a lot of people are picking them in their bracket challenge this season, there are many people, including myself, who believe Duke might be way over-hyped going into the season. 

With their flashy play, and Sports Center top-10 plays, it’s no question that this team on paper has the talent to be a power team in this year’s tournament, but that doesn’t mean that this makes them the best team in this year’s tournament.

One of the many flaws of this team is that they rank dead last in three-point percentage out of the power five conferences in the country, which comes into question who you give the ball to when you’re down by three late in the ball game. With unreliable shooters around the perimeter, it’s going to tough for this team to make clutch shots from behind the arc late in games. 

Obviously, this team is too gifted to lose to a 16-seeded team in this year’s tournament, so it might take until the round of 32 to justify where this team is truly at in terms of playing as a team. 

A big stat that puts the effect of Zion Williamson into perspective is that the team has a 3-3 record when he’s been injured, while when he’s playing the team is 26-2 against opponents, but what happens to this team once you double team Zion? Will RJ Barrett or Cameron Reddish step up for the team, or will we have to see some major changes to how the team plays basketball?

The biggest piece of advice for people filling out brackets this season is try your best to not pick Duke this season because if this team falls in the tournament, 75 percent of brackets that picked Duke to win it all will be affected, which puts the few who didn’t pick them in the driver seat this year to win their bracket challenge.

Not a lot of teams have stopped them this season, so they rightfully deserve a No. 1 seed in the tournament, but is the hype too big for a team with three or four future NBA players, and no bench? We’ll soon see who the real deal is starting today.

Header photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

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