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Duke's Dynasty & Lunardi's Tourney Projections

Joe Lunardi of ESPN.com makes the argument that Duke's
dynasty is just as dominant in today's world as John Wooden's was in his.

It's a pity, really, that Wooden and Krzyzewski can't coach against one
another. You get the feeling that it would be just an impossibly good
game, that they'd push each other to greater heights.

Lunardi seems like a knowledgeable sort of a guy, so we'll take his word for
it.

Speaking of same, let's take a look at his bracket projections.

He lists the #1 seeds as St. Joe's (East), Duke (South), Stanford (West) and
Pitt (Midwest).

He has Duke, UNC, State, Wake, Florida State, and Georgia Tech making it,
with Maryland missing, though they still have time to right the ship. How
does Alabama, at 13-10, get in with Maryland missing?

With six team, obviously there is some bracket-sharing going on. Duke
has FSU in the East; UNC and State share the Midwest. Tech is ACC-deprived
in the East, and Wake in the West.

He projects some interesting potential matchups:

In the East, though it would take a while to meet, Bob Knight again is put in
Mike Krzyzewski's regional, as is Kentucky. Surprise! They're both
on the bottom half of the bracket. Texas Tech plays FSU in the
opener. Providence would, we think, beat Cincinnati in their second-round
matchup, giving the Bearcats a slightly early welcome to the Big East.

Duke would probably see Syracuse in the second game, though C-USA teams,
including UAB, should not be taken lightly.

The bottom half of this bracket features Kansas and 'Bama, Illinois, and the
A-Sun rep, currently expected to be Troy State.

Out West, Wake would get Dave Odom's Chickens if they both win their
first-round games. Odds are either team would see Stanford in the regional
semifinals, but if we're Stanford, in this scenario, we cast a long and wary eye
at Dayton. Stanford has had a marvelous season, but we wouldn't make
reservations in San Antonio just yet. First of all, though they are 14-0
in the PAC-10, their conference, to be charitable, stinks.

Here's their nonconference schedule, win margins, and Sagarin ratings:

Sacramento State (+18) 192
@UC Irvine (+13_ 199
@Rice (+4) 49
Kansas (+6) 29
UNLV (+15) 80
Florida International (+27) 307
Gonzaga (+7) 3
Southern Utah (+30) 248
Harvard (41) 311

Not exactly murderer's row, bro. Sagarin rates the PAC-10 as the eighth
conference this year, so perhaps the 14-0 mark can be discounted as well.

True, the wins over Kansas and Gonzaga were impressive, but Kansas has hit
hard times since, and they didn't exactly destroy Gonzaga at home.

Texas, a team Wake had a tough time with, is in the bottom half of the
bracket, and is a prime upset candidate, with a second-round matchup with either
Air Force or Southern Illinois. Both teams are directed by rising stars in the
profession, and both are exceedingly dangerous.

This is a region, as projected, which Wake could and perhaps should win.

In Tech's East regional, St. Joe's is the top dog, which is fine. They
haven't lost, so let them have the reward for their success. But like
Stanford, the success may be somewhat of an illusion.

The A-10 is ranked 10th by Sagarin, below even the woeful PAC-it-in.
Here's their non-con story:

Gonzaga (+7) 3
@Boston U (+15) 41
@ODU (+3) 102
San Francisco (+32) 131
@Penn (+8) 96
B.C. (+10) 41
@Drexel (+22) 100
@Cal (+2) 93
U of The Pacific (+18) 74
@Delaware (+21) 147
@Villanova (+7) 60

Note first that Gonzaga's two losses are to Stanford and St. Joe's. And
we'd give their schedule - particularly their willingness to hit the road -
great credence.

But they barely beat ODU and Cal, even though they were road games, and
struggled with Penn, 'Nova, and B.C. Now, the Big Five games are just
tossups. But still. It's not exactly brutal competition, and the
entire A-10 is just barely above water. Usually reliable Temple is 12-11,
and Rhode Island is 16-11. Otherwise, their division of the conference is below
- well below - .500.

In the West, Dayton is legit, and GW and Richmond are 16-8 and 16-10
respectively. Xavier is 16-9.

Five teams in the A-10 have losing records.

Lunardi thoughtfully tossed Georgia into this bracket, though on the opposite
side from Tech.

Tech would get Amaker's Wolverines in the opener.

Jeff Capel and VCU would get Memphis and the winner would get Tech/Michigan's
winner.

Louisville is in the bottom half of the East, and they are tanking so badly
that you have to think they'll turn it around. They'd face Oklahoma State
and Miss. State and a peon to be named later.

Arizona, Michigan State, UConn, and Princeton would be the other four schools
here. Anyone want to bet against Princeton in a first round game? They
gave Duke a heck of a game - in Cameron. They're very, very good.

For Tech, there is a possible rematch with UConn. Now, though everyone has a
healthy respect for the Huskies, the element of awe is gone. Their
weaknesses have been exposed, and they don't bode well for tourney play: point
guard play and half-court offense.

In the Midwest, Pitt gets a pass from the play-in game, to face the winner of
the Utah State/Vandy game.

Charlotte is in and would play Xavier, and, should they win, would likely
play UNC in the next round. The Heels would have to beat ETSU. Now,
unbeknownst to most of you, ETSU is a basketball school, at least
intermittently. Sounds funny in Tennessee, but most people think of it as
a Democratic state, when the East has been a Republican stronghold since the
war. No, not that one. The Civil War.

Our point is, they have knocked off major powers in the tourney before, and
unlike the rest of the state, basketball is a big deal in Johnson City. Be
cocky at your own risk.

UNC would have to get past them, a tough second-round matchup, and almost
certainly Pitt.

State would have a weak opponent as a #3 seed, and would face the winner of
Wisconsin-Utah.

In the bottom, Lunardi puts Florida, Seton Hall, Oklahoma State, and a Big
Sky rep. Florida may not make it, and we always like savvy senior point
guards, like Andre Barrett, one of our very favorite players in the
country. State would have to survive, probably, Wisconsin, then the winner
of the OSU-Seton Hall game. In other words, it's a defensive dogfight to
advance. State is capable, but they've already blown a lot of what they
gained from the Duke game. This is one erratic team.

Could they play UNC in the regional? It's hard to see them both getting
there.