- Duke just escaped their Second Round matchup against UCF with a victory, holding on to win 77-76
- The Blue Devils have not looked overly dominant yet this tournament
- See how the underwhelming performances have affected their odds to win the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament
Duke has the star power, they have the coaching legend, and they also have luck to thank for still being live.
The Blue Devils have a week to think about how they almost kicked away a chance at the national championship.
UCF had Duke right where they wanted them, a chance for the kill shot, up by four points and with possession late. But an errant alley-oop gave the Duke the ball back, and drained no clock for the Knights.
The Blue Devils came back down the floor and knocked down a trey to pull within a point, and suddenly the game had a totally different complexion.
Duke/UCF was an instant #MarchMadness classic.
Here are the final 5 minutes of the epic finish. Enjoy. ? pic.twitter.com/2xWx4TO0cK
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 25, 2019
Give Duke credit for Zion Williamson’s aggressive layup and the whistle. It set up the offensive rebound and put back that have them the lead.
But the Knights had a beautiful chance to win as the put back by Aubrey Dawkins slid across the rim, but wouldn’t fall. A centimeter the other way and the Knights would’ve had the greatest upset of the tourney.
Lady Luck was with the Blue Devils, and they head to the Sweet 16, albeit with longer odds to win the tournament than when it started.
Odds to Win 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament
|Team||Odds to win 2019 March Madness|
*Odds taken March 25
Duke’s Odds Fading
Duke opened the tournament with average odds to win the NCAA Men’s Tournament of +220, went into the second round with +230 average odds, and the slide has continued, as they are now sporting average odds of +270.
As you see above, you can get them as long as +300.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 25, 2019
Does Duke Offer Value Now?
Are they still a good play? Yes.
UCF exposed Duke as the weak shooting team they’ve been all season. This has been Coach K’s worst team from deep, and as the Knights built their late lead they dared Duke to shoot their way back into it from deep.
This is ultimately what opponents will do to the Blue Devils with a lead.
Virginia Tech will most certainly attempt the same thing in the Sweet 16, and the Hokies won’t be intimidated. They beat Duke when Zion was out last month 77-72 in Blacksburg.
But Zion is the ultimate X factor. His 32 points on 12-24 shooting included his bull rush and basket at the end of the game that saved Duke’s bacon. He’s always the best player on the floor, so when he clicks into Go Mode, the Blue Devils go to a next level.
Duke’s brand name power makes them an average value bet. Casual college basketball fans know the Blue Devils, Coach K, and those lottery picks, so there’s no catching anyone by surprise with this pick. They’ve had pretty consistent odds to win it all since before Thanksgiving.
From Nov 25, 2013 to Feb 28, 2019 Duke had three one-point wins.
Since March 1, Duke has had three one-Point wins
— Shawn Krest (@ShawnKrest) March 25, 2019
But two factors underscore why Duke is still the right play: 1) No one can guard Zion when it matters 2) Chalk has dominated the tournament.
This has not been a bracket of upsets or Cinderellas, so if form continues to hold, the best team in the dance, the no. 1 overall seed should get to the Final Four and national championship game.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.