Winning the ACC tournament and capturing a share of the ACC regular-season title helped Duke (29-5) become the No. 1 seed in the South Region.
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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Winning the ACC tournament and capturing a share of the ACC regular-season title helped Duke (29-5) become the No. 1 seed in the South Region.
But a potential NCAA tournament rematch doesn't seem like much of a reward.
A year ago, Villanova knocked the Blue Devils out of the tournament with a 77-54 defeat in the East Regional semifinals in Boston. This year, Villanova (24-7) — a No. 2 seed — is a possible opponent in the South Regional final.
Before the seedings were announced, though, Duke senior forward Lance Thomas said the Blue Devils are a different team from last year and aren't going to let the past affect them.
"We're going to make stuff happen," he said in the locker room after the Blue Devils defeated Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament final. "We have momentum right now and we're going to run with it."
The tournament selection committee ranked Duke third among the four No. 1 regional seeds, touching off a bit of controversy. CBS analyst Greg Anthony questioned the placement of Duke ahead of Syracuse and West Virginia, but committee chairman Dan Guerrero defended it.
Guerrero said Syracuse (the No. 4 overall seed), West Virginia (a No. 2 regional seed) and Duke were the final three candidates for two No. 1 regional seeds. He said Duke helped itself by winning ACC titles in the regular season and the conference tournament.
Had the Blue Devils lost to Georgia Tech on Sunday, they might have slipped to a No. 2 regional seed.
"There's a possibility that could have occurred," Guerrero said on CBS.
Neither Syracuse nor West Virginia won two titles as Duke did. Syracuse won the Big East during the regular season but was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament by Georgetown. West Virginia won the Big East tournament but finished in a three-way tie for second place in the regular season.
Duke will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for the first and second rounds in games set for Friday and Sunday. The Blue Devils' first opponent at 7:25 p.m. Friday will be the winner of Tuesday's play-in game between Big South champion Winthrop (19-13) and Southwestern Athletic Conference champ Arkansas-Pine Bluff (17-15).
Should Duke advance, its next opponent would be Pac-10 regular-season champion California (23-10) or Louisville (20-12), which has defeated Syracuse twice this season. Other top teams in Duke's bracket include No. 3 seed Baylor (25-7) and No. 4 seed Purdue (27-5), whose seeding slipped because of a Feb. 24 injury to forward Robbie Hummel.
If Duke can win two games, it will advance to the South Region semifinals in Houston.