It was hard to live up to the excitement that was Thursday, with four overtime games on the first day of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. On Friday afternoon, Mercer, the No. 14 seed in the Midwest Region — nicknamed the Bracket of Death — upset No. 3 Duke, 78-71, delivering the most shocking result of the tournament so far.
In 2010, Duke won the national title. Since then, Coach K and Co. has had two Round of 64 exits. The first being in 2011 when Patriot League champion Lehigh, led by C.J. McCollum, ended the Blue Devils’ title defense. After Friday’s thrilling win, Lehigh sent this message to the Bears:
Mercer had the talent to be in the NCAA tournament last year, but the Bears were upset in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. That team would go on and become Dunk City with a run to the Sweet 16 in 2013. Florida Gulf Coast also sent along its praise:
Mercer’s improbable win comes one day shy of the one-year anniversary of Florida Gulf Coast’s win over Georgetown. The Eagles emerged on the national scene with dunk after dunk. Remember who gave them that nickname?
Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.
“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.
“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”
Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group. Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.
As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.
Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.
The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.