Duke

Listing Duke’s worst NCAA tournament losses

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Mercer’s 78-71 upset over Duke should come as little surprise — the Blue Devils’ defense has been terrible all season — but it is still shocking that Mike Krzyzewski’s squad was defeated in the first round.

For all the titles and Final Four appearances, Duke does have a puzzlingly history of dropping early round NCAA tournament games, losing seven first or second-round games since the Blue Devils became a dominant force in the college basketball landscape (following the back-to-back championships in 1991 and 1992).

Click here to see the biggest upsets in NCAA tournament history.

We present a mini-history of Duke’s worst early round exits:

  • No. 3 Duke vs. No. 6 California, Midwest, 1993: A second-round battle between the ascendant Golden Bears, led by Lamond Murray and Jason Kidd, against a team that had won consecutive titles. Though the Blue Devils still had Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill, the freshman Kidd pushed the pace and helped the squad to an 18-point lead late in the second half, and though Duke made a run, two straight three-point bricks by Hurley helped Cal with their upset.
  • No. 8 Duke vs. No. 9 Eastern Michigan, Southeast, 1996: Earl Boykins completely thrashed the Blue Devils’ backcourt, scoring ten points in the final several minutes as Duke failed to stay in front of the sub 6-foot future NBA guard. The loss was the first opening round loss for Duke since 1955.
  • No. 2 Duke vs. No. 10 Providence, Southeast, 1997: Providence dominated the offensive glass, scoring 20 points on additional possessions. The crucial play was a late leak-out from God Shammgod following a Duke made three that gave PC the ultimate lead.
  • No. 6 Duke vs. No. 11 VCU, West, 2007: VCU guard Eric Maynor showed a fair bit of Onions, taking a few dribbles to just beyond the free throw line and canning a two-point field goal.
  • No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 West Virginia, West, 2008: John Beilein had left Morgantown the year before, but Bob Huggins melded his coaching philosophy with Beilein-ball. WVU hit several key threes in the second half, and the Mountaineers dominated Duke on the glass for the second round win.
  • No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Lehigh: After being hyped up throughout his career by college hoops junkies, CJ McCollum had his breakout game nationally. The guard scored 30 points in the first round upset.
  • No. 3 Duke vs. No. 14 Mercer, Midwest, 2014: When Mercer watched Florida Gulf Coast burst through the NCAA tournament’s first weekend last year, coach Bob Hoffman felt his team could have made a similar run. He and his Bears now have that chance.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)

After blowout of South Carolina, is No. 22 Kentucky a Final Four contender?

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis (3) guards the ball after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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It only took 2:26 for official Doug Sirmons to plant two technical fouls on Kentucky head coach John Calipari, and that may have been the worst thing that could have happened to South Carolina.

He poked the bear, and the result was that a ticked off No. 22 Wildcat team proceeded to run the Gamecocks out of their own gym, 89-62.

The star of the show was interim head coach Tyler Ulis, who put together as dominating of a performance as you’ll ever see out of a player that stands 5-foot-9. Ulis finished with 27 points and 12 assists, hitting 4-for-8 from three and turning the ball over just once.

Marcus Lee added 11 points and 13 boards, including six on the offensive end, and Jamal Murray had his customary 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but the story of this game was Ulis.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seed a player under 6-foot capable of dominating a game the way that Ulis can dominate. Murray can take over with the best of them — we saw it against Florida and Ohio State — but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, this Kentucky team will go as far as Ulis carries them.

And based on the way that he’s played in the last six weeks, that could end up being pretty far. In SEC play, Ulis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 assists. He’s scored at least 17 points in 12 of the last 14 games and has notched as least five assists in all 14. He just orchestrated a total mollywhopping of a Frank Martin-coached team that was tied for first place in the SEC while playing without his head coach and on the road.

The issue with Kentucky is the same today as it was a month ago. They’re a two-man team with an inconsistent supporting cast. When their two studs play like this, they can beat anyone in the country. When they don’t, they can struggle against anyone.

But here’s the thing: When Ulis is playing the way that he’s played of late, they don’t really need all that much from their supporting cast. Derek Willis needs to be able to space the floor. Lee and Skal Labissiere need to be able to hold their own against opposing big men.

And when that happens?

Kentucky is clearly the best team in the SEC and good enough to be able to win four straight in the Big Dance and get to a Final Four.