The Duke basketball team has not lived up to expectations in 2015-2016, going 22-9 in the regular season after starting the year ranked No.5 in the AP Top 25 Poll. Now ranked No.19, the Blue Devils are assured a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and have a chance to improve their seeding by winning the ACC Championship.
The ACC Tournament tipped off on Tuesday afternoon with seeds 11-14 failing to earn a first round bye. The Blue Devils were not among the conference’s top four teams, who received second-round byes, so they will be in action on Wednesday.
Duke ended the regular season with a loss to rival North Carolina, marking their third loss in five games. It gave head coach Mike Krzyzewski's squad an 11-7 record in the ACC, making them the No.5 seed in the conference.
The Blue Devils managed to beat the Tar Heels in their first matchup on Feb. 17, which gave them their fifth win in a row at the time. It was Duke's third win against a ranked opponent this season, also having defeated Virginia and Louisville.
With North Carolina State defeating Wake Forest on Tuesday, the Wolfpack earned themselves a meeting with Duke on Wednesday. The Blue Devils will be significant favorites to advance to the next round, where they would face Notre Dame, who is the ACC’s No.4 seed. Duke defeated NC State by 10 points and eight points, respectively, in their two meetings this year, while they lost to the Fighting Irish by four points on Jan. 16.
In order for Duke to win the ACC Championship, they’ll have to win four games, culminating with the ACC title game on March 12 in Washington D.C. Assuming all of the higher seeds advance, the Blue Devils face potential matchups with North Carolina and Virginia.
It’s been five years since Duke won the ACC Championship, and they were the runner-up to Virginia in 2014. When the Blue Devils won the conference title in 2011, it marked their 10th ACC Championship in 13 years.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi currently has Duke playing in the Midwest region as the No.4 seed. The ACC Tournament is not only a chance for Duke to improve their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, but it will give players a shot to help their standing in the upcoming NBA draft. Freshman Brandon Ingram is the projected No.2 pick, and leading scorer Grayson Allen is a potential first-rounder, as well.
Below is a look at Duke’s path in the ACC Tournament.
Duke vs. NC State: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN (WatchESPN)
Duke vs. Notre Dame: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN (WatchESPN)
Duke vs. Syracuse/Pittsburgh/UNC: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2 (WatchESPN)
Duke vs. TBD: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN (WatchESPN)