For the second year in a row, Duke will miss the NCAA tournament. And, you could say, it’s because of COVID-19.
A year after all college basketball missed the 2020 NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils could once again be out of March Madness. At 13-11 years old into the season, Duke likely needed an ACC tournament championship – or, at least, a berth in the title game – to win a bid for the 2021 NCAA tournament.
However, coach Mike Krzyzewski and Co. cut the season short again on Thursday after it was reported the team had positive COVID-19. This forced the cancellation of his quarterfinal meeting with the state of Florida, 2 seeds, the Seminoles progressing unchallenged.
“We are disappointed that we cannot continue to fight together as a group after two exceptional days in Greensboro,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “This season has been a challenge for all teams across the country and, as we have seen time and time again, this global pandemic is very cruel and is not over yet. As many guarantees that we have implemented, no one is safe from this terrible virus. “
That said, there is a chance – however small – that the Blue Devils could make it into the NCAA tournament, but not in a way Krzyzewski would prefer. If that fails, the incredible series of NCAA tournaments performed by Duke – not counting 2020 – is over. Below is everything you need to know about Duke’s streak:
When was the last time Duke missed the NCAA tournament?
The last time Duke missed the NCAA tournament was in 1994-95; that the Blue Devils limped to the end of the season with a 13-18 record, ending the year with a second round loss of the ACC tournament to Wake Forest. Duke had a pretty good reason for his appalling season, a year after appearing in the NCAA Championship game: Krzyzewski had to miss the majority of the season – starting after the team’s first 12 games – to seek treatment for the back and recover from exhaustion.
Krzyzewski led the team to a 9-3 record before passing the remainder of the season, which included wins over 23rd Michigan and 17th Georgia Tech (but also loss to 16th UConn). Assistant Pete Gaudet took over from Krzyzewski, leading the team to their disappointing record which included four series of at least three straight losses and 10 losses against ranked teams. The Blue Devils also lost two games to North Carolina.
Even then, Duke was at a time when missing the tournament was rare: After Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils missed the tournament in its first three seasons (1980-83), the team made the NCAA tournament 11 straight years. . The Blue Devils have won at least one game in each tournament in this streak, have played six Final Fours, have won second place three times and won the national championship twice.
If Duke doesn’t do the March Madness in 2021, it won’t just shatter a streak of 24 completed NCAA tournaments; he will also miss March Madness for just the second time in 35 seasons (excluding 2020).
Duke Basketball Record 2020-21
Despite Duke’s 13-11 record, the team have had a fairly decent start to the season, going 5-2 in their first seven games. (This, of course, follows a 2-2 record, the Blue Devils’ worst start to the season since 1999-2000). Still, the team’s two losses came to teams ranked in the top 10 at the time (No.8 Michigan State and No.6 Illinois).
It was obvious from the start, however, that the Blue Devils would not be able to play a full schedule, as six games have been canceled or postponed until January 2. In retrospect, Duke’s first loss that could be considered. “ bad “happened on January 19, when the team suffered a 79-73 loss to a Pitt team that ended up 10-12 (but was 8-2 after the win at the time).
Duke’s likely lowest point of the season came February 1-9, when the team lost three straight games to unranked opponents. The latest of those losses brought the Blue Devils down to 7-8, the only point of the season where their record was below .500. The team’s highlight is questionable, but it could be the 66-65 victory over No.7 Virginia on February 20, the third in a four-game winning streak. The Blue Devils finished the regular season with three straight losses to enter the ACC tournament with an 11 record.
From there, Duke played some of his best basketball of the season with his NCAA tournament spot on the line: the 10-seeded Blue Devils beat Boston College 86-51, then 7, Louisville, who had beaten them twice already this season – 70-56.
Duke and NCAA Tournament COVID-19 Protocols
Although his season is over, Duke could potentially compete in the NCAA tournament under the organization’s COVID-19 protocols.
The selection committee will identify four teams – the top four teams in the tournament – and rank them 1-4. In the event that a team from a multiple-nominee league cannot participate in the NCAA tournament – after the initial field of 68 teams has been set but before 6 p.m. ET Tuesday – the NCAA will choose one of these four teams, in ascending order. , to replace the team that cannot play.
If Duke is one of those four teams and is set to replace a team, it would take five healthy players to produce seven consecutive days of negative COVID-19 tests. It is unclear whether a quarantined player would be eligible to travel to Indiana if they also produced negative test results. Either way, the Blue Devils are expected to stay on campus and continue COVID testing while they wait to see if they could participate in March Madness.
Duke had until 11 p.m. ET on Saturday to notify the selection committee if he would not be able to adhere to NCAA medical protocols. According to a report released on Saturday by the Raleigh News & ObserverDuke’s men’s basketball administrator Jon Jackson declined to comment on whether the team will notify the NCAA that they cannot play. According to a report Sunday from Andy Katz, no team informed the NCAA that they would not be able to play in March Madness:
The 11 p.m. deadline has passed and no team has contacted the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee to opt out of the NCAA tournament review. So that means Kansas and Virginia both expect to be selected and play next week after having to give up games this week.
– Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) March 14, 2021
Duke’s 2020-21 season timeline
Below is a timeline of Duke’s biggest successes and failures of the 2020-21 season.
November 25: Duke’s season opener against Gardner-Webb has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the latter team. It was postponed until December 19, almost a month after the original game was planned.
December 6: Duke suffers his second non-conference cancellation against Elon.
December 8: After Duke’s 83-68 loss to Illinois – reducing the team to 2-2 – Krzyzewski asks if teams should play non-conference games amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just want the safety, mental and physical health of the players and staff to assess where we are at,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re just working on it.”
The comment prompted Alabama coach Nate Oats to question whether Krzyzewski would make that assessment if his team had played better (which the Crimson Tide later apologized for).
December 10: Duke announces that he will cancel all remaining non-conference games, including Charleston Southern (December 12) and the rescheduled Gardner-Webb game (December 19).
December 29: Duke misses his first conference game of the season against Pitt, who had a COVID-19 positive player. The teams ended up playing on January 19, with the Panthers winning 79-73 at home. The team’s next game against Florida State on Jan. 2 has also been postponed.
January 23: Krzyzewski is warning student reporter Jake Piazza after his team’s 70-65 loss to Louisville brought Duke down to 5-5 this season.
“Why don’t we just assess this game, I’m not really in our next step right now,” Krzyzewski said.
Krzyewski called Piazza to apologize for the warning.
February 15: Freshman Jalen Johnson – a five-star and No.13 overall rookie in the 2020 class – announces his decision to forgo the remainder of the 2020-21 season and focus on the 2021 NBA Draft instead. The decision would be supported by teammates Krzyzewski and Johnson, but the decision is still criticized, including by Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim .
February 27: Duke loses three straight games (the first two in overtime) to drop to 11-11 on the season, removing any chance of the Blue Devils entering the NCAA tournament as a general offer.
March 11: Duke’s ACC tournament quarterfinal game with seeded Florida State 2 is called off after the former produced a positive COVID-19 from a “level 1” individual on the team. Florida State advance to the semi-finals while Duke declares his season “over” at 13-11.