Duke did not lose because the NCAA’s politics.
Let’s get that out of the way right now.
Duke lost because they were a flawed basketball team and South Carolina, who played put together a magnificent outlier performance during the first weekend of the tournament, was one of a handful of teams in the country that could exploit those flaws.
That could have happened in any arena that the two teams squared off in.
But Duke and South Carolina didn’t play in any old arena.
They played in Greenville, South Carolina, because the NCAA decided to move all of their events out of the state of North Carolina due to the discriminatory House Bill 2. And that, in turn, gave the Gamecocks a slight home court advantage, one that was exacerbated by the fact that every in Carolina Blue bled Garnet and Black for 40 minutes on Sunday night.
So no, I don’t think that Duke loss because they were forced to play a de facto road game instead of a home game in the second round of the tournament. It may have played a role — teams that play the way that South Carolina play feed off of the energy that comes with a raucous crowd — but it wasn’t the root cause.
That doesn’t mean, however, that this shouldn’t be a major talking point.
And I get it, no one will ever feel sorry for Duke, not when the entire nation was rooting for the Blue Devils, who were anointed by the media in October and who rostered the most hated player college basketball has ever seen, to lose. But the adults in the room can have a real discussion about this. No. 2 seed Duke played South Carolina in South Carolina in the second round of the tournament, a problem that could have very easily been solved by sending Michigan to the East and the Gamecocks to the Midwest.
But that isn’t what happened.
Instead, the Selection Committee opened themselves up for this kind of criticism, because there is not doubt that the home court advantage played some role in this.
I don’t think that role was all that large. I’m sure anyone associated with Duke would disagree.
But that is a major talking point as we move forward, because the decision on where tournament sites will be hosted through the year 2022 are coming soon.