Wow. Once again, Friday of Championship week was filled with a host of upsets, and many more near misses. Most importantly for the Blue Devils, all three top seeds in the ACC Tournament (minus Duke, of course) were upset yesterday, and many in stunning fashion. The two lowest seeds in the tournament, conference cellar-dwellars Miami and N.C. State, upended Virginia Tech and Florida State respectively, while seventh seeded Georgia Tech took down No. 2 seed Maryland. And while Duke fans should be ecstatic about these outcomes in terms of winning the ACC title (although overconfidence could now be a legitimate concern for the Blue Devils), all these upsets might come back to bite Duke come Selection Sunday, as now the team lacks the opportunity to get one more impressive victory to boost its strength of schedule and RPI.
It isn’t as if Duke is the only team in that situation, however, as upsets have hit the Big-10 and Big East tournaments as well. West Virginia narrowly escaped an upset for the second straight night, narrowly beating Notre Dame, but most importantly the Mountaineers have not looked at all impressive in their two contests. Their offense has been atrocious at worst, and ugly at best, especially against two Bubble teams in the Big-East. While a win is a win, the case for the final No. 1 seed may come down to the “eye-test” and right now West Virginia isn’t looking too pretty. The Mountaineers still face a tough contest today versus a hot Georgetown team, and a loss could eliminate them from contention for that last top seed.
In the Big-10, the big news of the day was Minnesota’s upset of Michigan State, which actually could prove to have negative effects for the Blue Devils. If either Ohio State or Purdue wins the Big-10 tournament, either team would have a legitimate case for a top seed, whereas Michigan State had fallen out of that discussion. Now, Duke must rely on Minnesota to upset Purdue today (a possibility, considering one more win could propel the Golden Gophers into the NCAA Tournament), and hope a similar fate befalls Ohio State versus Illinois (as the Illini are another team fighting for their Tournament lives).
On a side note, I think it is safe to say that the ending of the Michigan vs. Ohio State game yesterday could be the best of Championship Week thus far. But I’m shocked that none of the talking heads on ESPN discussed the fact that, at least to my eye, Evan Turner’s fantastic buzzer-beating shot never should have happened. Look at the replay: you’ll see (if I’m not insane) that the clock doesn’t start until at least three or four milliseconds after Turner touches the ball. That means he never should have had the time to get off his improbable shot, even if the Wolverines’ defense was atrocious on that final play. Just some food for thought.
Now that the slate of games is thinning as Championship Week comes to a close, I think it is pretty clear which games Duke fans will want to watch today: both Big-10 semifinals and the Big-East Championship. An upset in any of those contests would go a long way in securing Duke’s No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, especially now that the Blue Devils’ road to the ACC Title is much clearer with the plethora of upsets yesterday.
I’ll leave you with a preview of Duke’s showdown with Miami today, courtesy of Raycom (you’ll find it in the top-right corner of this page). I won’t be able to post tomorrow morning (I know you all were planning your day around it) because I’ll be flying back to Durham, but I’ll try to get something up before the Selection Show to offer my final predictions on Duke’s seed.