Duke basketball bracketology if NCAA tournament starts today

Duke’s Jeremy Roach (3) pulls in the rebound from Notre Dame’s J.J. Starling (1) during the second half of Duke’s 68-64 victory over Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.

Duke’s Jeremy Roach (3) pulls in the rebound from Notre Dame’s J.J. Starling (1) during the second half of Duke’s 68-64 victory over Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.


The NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket will be finalized and announced three weeks from Sunday.

In its first full season without Mike Krzyzewski as its head coach since 1980, Duke may not be in the running for a top seed, but the Blue Devils have done enough at this point to be solidly in the field of 68.

With five regular-season games remaining prior to the ACC tournament, Duke (18-8, 9-6 ACC) has enough high-quality wins along with a lack of bad losses to expect NCAA tournament inclusion.

Duke coach Jon Scheyer, a regular participant in the tournament as a Blue Devils player from 2006-10, and an assistant coach from 2013-22, knows nothing is guaranteed in mid-February. The Blue Devils can’t go on a season-ending losing streak and feel comfortable.

So, barring that unlikely occurrence, where can Duke expect to be seeded and sent for NCAA tournament play?

In a rare situation, it certainly appears the Blue Devils will be heading out of the area for the tournament’s first weekend.

Though Greensboro is one of eight sites for first- and second-round games, Duke isn’t in position for a top-four regional seed (top 16 overall) and thus is vulnerable to being shipped to any of the other seven sites.

Speaking of the top 16, the NCAA men’s basketball committee will reveal its first peek at who it considers those teams on Saturday. The ACC figures to have Virginia and, perhaps, Miami among those 16 teams, but not usual suspects Duke and North Carolina.

Here’s a look at where Duke stands through 26 games, looking at metrics and tournament bracket projections, along with how the Blue Devils’ remaining regular-season schedule can help or hurt its NCAA tournament seed.

The Metrics

As of Thursday, Duke sat No. 34 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), a sorting apparatus the committee uses that gives value to each win and loss and places them in one of four quadrants.

Quad 1 games are home games against teams ranked 1-30, neutral site games against teams 1-50 and road games against teams 1-75.

Quad 2 games are home games against 31-75, neutral against 51-100 and away against 76-135.

Quad 3 games are home vs 76-160, neutral vs 101-200 and away vs. 135-240

Quad 4 games are home vs 161-363, neutral vs 201-363 and away vs. 241-363

Entering Saturday’s game at Syracuse, the Blue Devils are 3-7 in Quad 1 games, 3-1 against Quad 2, 3-0 vs Quad 3 and 9-0 against Quad 4.

With Wake Forest having fallen to No. 76, all but one of Duke’s losses are within Quad 1. The Blue Devils lost to Wake, 81-70, at Winston-Salem on Dec. 20. If the Deacons climb back to the top 75, that loss falls on Duke’s Quad 1 record again.

But the point is, that loss to the No. 76 team represents Duke’s worst loss, which is better than many of its NET peers. Among the top 35 teams, 16 of them have at least one Quad 3 or Quad 4 loss.

Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency-based statistical analysis has the Blue Devils No. 40 nationally.

With those numbers, Duke has a safe spot in the tournament field barring a season-ending losing streak.

The seed projections

The nation’s various bracket projectors all have Duke included in their fields of 68. Bracket Matrix’s list of 100 projections shows Duke’s average projected seed at 7.49, ranging from 6-10.

The only ACC teams with better average projected seeds are Virginia (2.91) and Miami (5.06).

Bart Torvik’s analytics projection looks at what he thinks each team’s resume will be when the bracket is released on March 12, not where they stand now.

His T-Ranktology assigns Duke a No. 9 seed, along with Boise State, Rutgers and Maryland. The system projects Duke to go 3-2 over its final five regular-season games to enter the ACC tournament at 21-10.

The schedule

Duke’s five regular-season games include three more games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Blue Devils are 13-0 this season, with road games at Syracuse and UNC.

At Syracuse

Saturday, 6 p.m.

This will be a Quad 2 result for Duke since Syracuse (16-0, 9-6) is currently No. 97 in the NET, making it unlikely to play its way back into the top 75.

Since Duke is 2-6 in ACC road games, a win here would be a nice move to boosting that part of the Blue Devils’ resume.


Monday, 7 p.m.

The Cardinals (3-23, 1-14) represent a rare Quad 4 game in ACC play. This game can only hurt Duke since it’s at home, so the Blue Devils have to take care of business here.

Virginia Tech

Feb. 25, 8 p.m.

Duke’s 78-75 loss at Virginia Tech on Jan. 23 is rare in that it’s a Quad 1 result against a team likely to be playing on Tuesday at the ACC tournament. The Hokies (15-10, 5-11) are No. 67 in the NET but, with Wednesday’s 77-70 loss at Georgia Tech, have played their way out of the NCAA tournament at-large field with losses in 10 of their past 14 games.

The rematch at Cameron Indoor will be a Quad 2 game for Duke and the Blue Devils need to win it.

N.C. State

Feb. 28, 7 p.m.

The final two games of the regular season likely will determine if Duke gets a top-four ACC tournament seed and whether or not the Blue Devils can climb up the NCAA tournament seed board to six or five. The Wolfpack (20-7, 10-6) is currently No. 38 in the NET, making this a Quad 2 result for Duke since the game is at Cameron. NC State clobbered Duke, 84-60, in Raleigh last month.

At North Carolina

March 4, 6 p.m.

The Tar Heels (16-10, 8-7) are projected for a lower seed than Duke at this point. UNC is No. 45 in the NET, so this will be a Quad 1 game for the Blue Devils. Like the Syracuse game, Duke winning at UNC would help boost its road record in addition to offering a chance for another Quad 1 win.

Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. He placed second in both beat writing and breaking news in the 2019 Associated Press Sports Editors national contest. Previously, Steve worked for The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, S.C.), The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), Charlotte Observer and Hickory (NC) Daily Record covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly. He’s won numerous state-level press association awards. Steve graduated from Illinois State University in 1989.

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