Duke Blue Devils
Head coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Seed: No. 2 seed in West Regional
Up next: Saturday vs. North Carolina in the national semifinal, 8:49 p.m. ET
Duke College Spreads: Duke (+155) is the slight favorite ahead of Kansas in the odds to win the national championship
Title odds before the season:
How they got here:
Defeated Cal State Fullerton 78-61, Michigan State 85-76, Texas Tech 78-73 and Arkansas 78-69
Previous Final Four appearances:
1963; 1964 (finalist); 1966; 1978 (finalist);1986 (finalist); 1988; 1989; 1990 (finalist); 1991 (national champion); 1992 (national champion); 1994 (finalist); 1999 (finalist); 2001 (national champion); 2004; 2010 (national champion); 2015 (national champion).
Road to the Final Four: Duke vs College Spread
Duke’s last NCAA Tournament with retiring coach Mike Krzyzewski at the helm began against Cal State Fullerton. Duke raced out to an 11-point lead and it looked like the 18½-point spread would be no problem. Fullerton pushed back after the tough start and only trailed by six with four minutes left in the first half. Mark Williams and Paolo Banchero had the last two baskets before halftime to give the Blue Devils a 10-point lead at the break.
A three-point play by Banchero put Duke up 19 early in the second half. Duke was still in a position to cover with a 19-point lead with 1:01 remaining, but a Dante Maddox dunk with four seconds to play made it a 78-61 game and enabled Fullerton to cover.
Duke, a 6½-point favorite against Michigan State, trailed by five points early on but a 10-0 Duke run gave the lead and momentum back to the favored Blue Devils. It was a four-point game at the half.
Michigan State rallied to tie the game midway through the second half and led by five with five minutes remaining. Duke would go 7 of 8 from the line in the final minute to pull away and cover with an 85-76 win that easily topped the 146½-point total.
It was another tussle in the regional semifinals.
When Texas Tech jumped out to the early 10-2 lead, covering was the last thing on the mind of the Blue Devils. Duke was able to rebound and took the lead on a Jeremy Roach hoop with 7:48 to go in the first half. However, the Red Raiders took a four-point lead into halftime.
Baskets by freshmen A.J. Griffin and Banchero gave Duke its first lead of the second half with 11:37 left, setting the stage for a back-and-forth affair. It wasn’t until a Banchero 3-pointer was followed by a pair of Roach baskets that Duke went up by five points with 1:33 to play. It was a two-point game before Griffin connected on two foul shots as Duke would survive and advance. The game went over the 137½-point total with 2:18 remaining.
A win away from the Final Four, Duke ripped off 10 straight points to erase an early Arkansas lead. A Trevor Keels 3-pointer just before the half gave Duke a 12-point advantage.
Arkansas did get as close as five points but never really threatened to steal the game. Duke easily covered as 4½-point favorites.
Duke enters the national semifinal against rival North Carolina listed by the college spreads as a four-point favorite.
Duke has been pretty fortunate in the injury department as its top eight players have combined to miss a total of eight games. Banchero, Wendell Moore Jr., Williams, Griffin and Roach played in all 38 games.
They’ll need all those healthy players when they face North Carolina in Duke’s next basketball game.
Players to Watch
Paolo Banchero: A top NBA Draft prospect, he probably won’t be at Duke for long, but he is making the most of this season. Duke’s leader in scoring (17.7 points) and rebounding (7.7), Banchero has scored in double figures in each of his last 10 games. In the NCAA Tournament, he is averaging 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Wendell Moore Jr.: His numbers, especially in the NCAA Tournament, won’t jump out at you but the junior makes all the right plays at the right time. It doesn’t hurt that he is 16 of 17 from the foul line in the last three games. He has 14 assists and just seven turnovers in the NCAA Tournament.
Mark Williams: The 7-foot sophomore is shooting 81 percent from the field in the NCAA Tournament and his ability to score timely baskets inside has been a key for the Blue Devils. He is averaging 14.8 points and 8.9 rebounds during the NCAA Tournament. His individual matchup with North Carolina double-double machine Armando Bacot will be worth the price of admission.