clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2018 NCAA Tournament Notes

It’s been a heck of a show so far

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Duke vs Rhode Island
Mar 17, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Trevon Duval (1) and forward Justin Robinson (50) walk off the court after defeating the Rhode Island Rams in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at PPG Paints Arena. 
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Duke gave Blue Devil fans a gift Saturday with a worry-free second-round NCAA victory over Rhode Island.

There was never any doubt as Duke raced to an early lead and never faltered en route to an 87-62 victory.

The win was Duke’s fourth biggest margin for a second-round win under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. It’s significant because second-round blowouts have been a good sign for the Blue Devils.

Five times, Duke has won by at least 20 points in the second round … and once by 19:

  • 1986: Old Dominion, by 28 points
  • 1988: SMU, by 24 points
  • 1999: Tulsa, by 41 points
  • 2004: Seton Hall, by 28 points
  • 2018: Rhode Island, by 25 points.

In every case, the Duke team winning by plus-20 has reached the Final Four. That is also true for the 2015 Blue Devils, who beat San Diego State by 19 in the second round.

The win was Coach K’s 93rd NCAA Tournament win (the most in history ... 17 more than second-place Roy Williams of UNC. It also guarantees his 24th Sweet 16 appearance, which is also the most in history (Dean Smith is second with 22).


The victory was Krzyzewski’s 1,099th career win, topping former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt’s career total of 1,098 wins.

Several reporters made a big deal of the milestone Saturday after the game, but it’s a false equivalency. Men’s basketball and women’s basketball are different sports.

Will the media make a big deal late next season when Coach K gets his 1,123rd win, thereby passing Harry Stratham? The 80-year old coach won 1,122 games at McKendree University of Lebanon, Ind., before he was fired earlier this month.

And what about FSU coach Mike Morris? He has 1,957 victories in Tallahassee. His wins came in baseball, what the heck. If we can compare K’s wins with women’s basketball, why not compare his wins with baseball?

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing but respect for Summitt and her fine achievement. But don’t be comparing apples and oranges.


It’s funny – Kentucky coach John Calipari opened the tournament by complaining about his bracket – he was especially bitter about being sent to Boise.

But it was the prospect of playing Arizona in the second round and Virginia in the third round that really set him off.

If course, both Arizona and Virginia were upset in the first round – giving Kentucky a path paved with mid-majors all the way to the Final Four.

Sometimes that happens. And sometimes you get the tough road – like Duke’s possible matchup with CBS and ESPN favorite Michigan State in the regional semifinals (the Spartans have to win today) and a potential matchup with top seed Kansas – playing in front of a “home” crowd in Omaha – in the Elite Eight.

I do think it interesting that Duke’s last four national titles have all run through Kentucky … kind of.

In 1992, Duke beat the Wildcats in a famous East Regional championship game in Philadelphia. In 2001, Duke and Kentucky were scheduled to meet in the East title game in Philly again. But Southern Cal upset the ‘Cats in the semifinals and the Devils beat the Trojans en route to the title.

Nine years later, in 2010, Duke was against in line to play Kentucky in the NCAA semifinals in Indianapolis. But Kentucky lost the regional title game to West Virginia. Duke beat the Mountaineers in the national semifinals, just before winning that championship game thriller with Butler.

In 2015, Kentucky was undefeated and touted as one of the great teams off all time. But the ‘Cats lost to Wisconsin in the national semifinals. Duke won the title by beating the Badgers in the title game.

So Duke has made a habit of beating the team that beat Kentucky.

PS Kentucky used to hold the NCAA record for consecutive games with a made 3-pointer. They had 1,047 such games in a row. But the streak came to an end Thursday night when the ‘Cats failed to convert a 3 against Davidson. The new leader is UNLV with 1,039 straight games with a 3. Vanderbilt is second with 1,031. Duke is third with 1,019 after the Rhode Island game. The Devils last failed to hit a 3 against Hawaii, in December of 1989.


The ACC got off to a bad start Thursday as Miami, N.C. State and Virginia Tech all suffered tough losses in the first round. The news got even worse Friday when Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed.

Late Friday night, things turned around as Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse all won first round games. Along with UNC’s expected win, that left the ACC with five teams (out of nine that started) in the field.

Duke became the first ACC team to reach the Sweet 16, but the real test of the conference will come Sunday, when UNC, Clemson, FSU and Syracuse play in the second round.

As it stands – of Saturday night – the ACC still has the most teams left in the tourney – five.

The ACC also has seven wins (and four losses). The SEC also has seven wins (and five losses). The Big 10 has the best record of the power conferences – 5-1. But the conference has just three teams left in the field.

The Big 12 has a 6-3 record – although the highly routed league is the only one with two Sweet 16 teams at the moment. The Big East is 5-3. The A-10 is 2-3 and the American is 2-2.

Of course, everybody knows by now that the Pac 12 – which touts itself as the Conference of Champions – is out of the tournament with a 0-3 record. UCLA and Arizona State both lost play-in games and conference champ Arizona was upset Thursday by Buffalo.

And it’s not just the Pac 12. Gonzaga has won two tense games to stay alive, otherwise the entire West Coast would be wiped off the bracket in the first weekend.


Next year’s ACC is starting to shape up.

At Pittsburgh, nine returning players are set to explore transfer options, That could be a devastating talent exodus for a program that finished 0-19 in ACC play this season. Of course, the new coach – whoever that may be -- will have a chance to re-recruit the players on his roster.

Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie has announced he will explore NBA options. Okogie, who has just completed his sophomore season in Atlanta, will not hire an agent, so he could return to Tech.

Sources within the league suggest that Boston College junior Jerome Robinson and Syracuse sophomore Ty Battle are certain to enter the NBA draft this spring. Almost as likely are Louisville juniors Deng Adel and Ray Spalding. N.C. State’s Omer Yurtseven is another likely candidate.

Of course, Duke is going to be hardest hit. The Blue Devils will almost certainly lose Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter and Trevon Duval, while Gary Trent is probably gone too.


The NIT is experimenting with several rule changes.

A few are worth considering – for instance, it makes sense to move the 3-point line back to the international distance. A wider lane is okay if the officials will actually enforce the 3-second rule (the tape of the Duke-Notre Dame game from the ACC Tournament is evidence that the call is rarely made – Bonzie Colson was camped in the lane for 10-15 seconds at a time).

The one rule change that doesn’t add much is the division of the game into quarters.

The problem is that it adds two more end-of-clock situations, That may create drama as players try to beat the buzzer at the end of each quarter, but it also brings to the fore more timing issues and hence more officials standing at the scorer’s table making sure the clock is right.

No thanks.

If you're going to shop Amazon, please start here and help DBR and while you're there check out Al Featherston’s book True Blue | Check out our October '17 t-shirt! | Drop us a line