A look at Thursday's opening day of the NCAA Tournament


Ahead of Sunday's game, Berry believes there is a chance that he is pulled from the game if No. 1 seed North Carolina is dominating, but he has no expectations about his playing status.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski encourages his team during the first half against Louisville in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Duke advanced, 81-77.

Duke's talent, however, hasn't always translated to success this season. Villanova was even better during the regular season this year than it was on the road to last year's championship trophy.

OUR PREDICTION: The Trojans haven't been dancing in quite a long time so expect them to be fired up against a Blue Devils squad that is just 1-4 against the spread over the last five years in the first round of the tournament.

The #6 Cincinnati Bearcats (29-5) will go against the play-in game victor Kansas State Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Jeff Dowtin scored a career-high 23 points with a flawless day at the free-throw line, upstart Rhode Island answered every threat and the Rams ran right into the next round of the NCAA Tournament by stunning cold-shooting No. 6 seed Creighton 84-72 on Friday in an opener of the Midwest Region.

That much was evident as the Blue Devils knocked down 13 3-pointers and had four players score at least 14 points.

Duke is next slated to face seventh-seed SC or tenth-seeded Marquette.

That doesn't leave me a lot of time to watch Duke and North Carolina.

Despite the fact that Duke is the two-seed, the seventh-seeded Gamecocks will play 103.7 miles from their home arena. Both teams can thrive in a fast-paced tempo, but Iowa State might not be able to win in a slower game. No.11 USC or No.6 SMU could face Duke by pulling off upsets, and No.14 New Mexico State is a longshot to be Duke's third March Madness opponent.

That's not to say they weren't tough.

By the time they tip off against Hampton late Saturday night, it will be almost two full weeks since they played a game. Injuries to Tatum and freshman Henry Giles and Krzyzewski's back injury hurt the team's cohesion, but the Blue Devils seem to be rolling now.

Jayson Tatum has emerged as arguably the best freshman in college basketball, and he appears well on his way to being a top-five pick in the NBA draft. Sophomore forward Jordan Varnado had a nice game as well, scoring 18 and grabbing 10 rebounds in the loss. The Summit League player of the year is the top scorer in the NCAA Tournament at 25.3 points per game.

The 2-3 is one of many defensive looks the Blue Devils practice, but according to Jones, there's never a particular time or situation they plan to switch into it. SC and Marquette fans were trickling in for their first-round matchup, and there was only one person that got boos.

Everybody wants to talk about top seed Villanova, the defending champs, and No. 2 seed Duke in this bracket.

The Blue Devils could have an especially hard time against teams like Villanova and Marquette, who put up a lot of points. There are maybe six teams in the South I'd take to win the Midwest.

The bracket is set and the best two and a half weeks of the year for sports fans is ready to tip off. With three consecutive wins over top-20 opponents, the Blue Devils appear to be peaking at the ideal time.

Staff and faculty can cheer on the ninth-ranked Duke women's basketball team Saturday when the Blue Devils take on Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament champion Hampton during the first round of the NCAA tournament in Cameron Indoor Stadium. "Everywhere we play is a brutal environment".



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