Why Duke Won't Win the 2019 NCAA Tournament
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Duke is considered the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament, with its star power overwhelming the rest of the college basketball world for much of the season. Despite their status as the team seen most likely to win the tournament, though, anyone who has dealt with March Madness knows that there is no sure thing in this competition. Here are a few reasons that Duke won't win the NCAA Tournament despite their top billing.
Even the best teams in college basketball can fall victim to the injury bug, and Duke has been no exception throughout this season. Their most notable injuries have come to Zion Williamson, who is the team's biggest star. An injury to his eye kept him out of the second half of a key win over Florida State, and his knee kept him sidelined for the majority of the stretch run to this season. Williamson looked good during the ACC tournament but if he isn't back at 100% due to fatigue or reinjury, Duke might not be able to go all the way. All it will take is one more incident related to Zion's knee to remove him from tournament play, which would drastically alter Duke's title chances.
Depth is crucial to success in college basketball, and that is especially true in the tournament due to the quick turnaround between games. Unfortunately, Duke isn't a team that boasts a lot of depth, which could be another thing that knocks them out of tournament contention this March. The Blue Devils have just five players averaging five or more points per game on the season, and could need more than their top players to come through for them if they are going to avoid an upset.
The trio of RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Zion Williamson combine for nearly 60 of the team's 84 points per game. If they can even get some increased contributions from the likes of Tre Jones and Marques Bolden to give them a more dangerous fivesome on the floor late in games, that would be a massive boost for Mike Krzyzewski's team.
Every Team's Best Shot
One of the most difficult things about being one of the best teams in any sport is the fact that you are likely to get the best shot from every team you face. Every team gives everyone their best shot in the NCAA Tournament, but against one of the top seeds in the tournament as a whole, teams tend to be more intense and more focused than usual. This year, Duke is one of those top teams, and they will have to be on guard for the duration of this tournament.
Coach K is an experienced coach who has kept teams focused through similar situations throughout his decorated career. One great game from one of the elite teams they face late in the tournament will trump all of that focus, though. With Gonzaga, Virginia, and the rest of the top teams in college basketball all having recent runs of success through the tournament, it isn't enough to have a coach who has been there before. With so many freshmen leading the way for Duke, experience will be a concern on the court even if it isn't on the bench.