The NCAA Tournament kicked off yesterday and with the exception of Duke-Belmont, the lack of drama was….disappointing. There will be no George Mason this year, as the Patriots were bounced in convincing fashion by Notre Dame. Winthrop, which won a first round game in 2007 was trounced by Washington State and Ivy League champ Cornell, riding a 16 game winning streak, was thumped by Stanford in the Brainiac Bowl.
Duke was taken to the limit by feisty Belmont, and survived 71-70. If you’re a Belmont fan, or non-Duke fan, what will stick in the craw is that twice Belmont had the ball up 71-70, and twice they could not extend the lead. As an observer, another basket by the Bruins might have done the trick, but give Duke credit for playing tough defense.
The thing about Duke that is puzzling is their lack of depth. This is a program that has one McDonald’s All-America after another, and yet, it was Belmont that played more reserves than the Blue Devils. And, this has been the trend the last few years at Duke. For most games, Duke plays only six or seven guys, while Belmont plays 10?
Duke still may go far in this tournament, but they don’t really look like a great team. Yes, their record is 28-5, and yes, they play in the tough ACC, although the ACC has been a bit overrated in recent years. Sunday’s game will be a real test. The lack of depth and only one day of rest. Should be interesting.
Hopefully, this tournament will get going and provide some more drama than it did on Day 1.