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March Madness is here in Hannah's, Dugout

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NPR's Facebook Audience Picks Villanova As NCAA Men's Basketball Champions

Coach Mike Krzyzewski rolled with that arrangement through the ACC tournament into the NCAAs.

The Blue Devils fell to No. 21 in early February, their lowest ranking of the year. Led by conference Player of the Year and consensus first-team All-American point guard Frank Mason Jr. and stud freshman Josh Jackson, the Jayhawks should benefit from an unfortunate injury to the second-best player on second-seeded Oregon's roster in defensive stalwart Chris Boucher, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. They will let their play do the talking for them starting this week. Many people say Kennard is Duke's best player, but it's the two of them combined with Allen that makes this team unsafe. In the first timeout, he was the first Blue Devil off the bench to welcome the starters back to the sideline, standing behind Krzyzewski as Allen extended his palm to the five starters.

The Duke men's basketball team arrived at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., Saturday afternoon and participated in pregame activities ahead of its NCAA Tournament second-round contest against SC.

This information might point to a roster loaded with high level recruits and "one and done" National Basketball Association prospects. The Badgers beat the Gophers twice on the court and reached the Big Ten Tournament championship game. Troy has covered the number in four straight games and is 9-2 against the spread in its last 11 games versus a team with a winning percentage above.600. Even on opening weekend, weeks before the title game, that appetizing possibility was on the menu. They both have Hall of Fame coaches, and great isolation players in Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker.

Being a First Four team is not always a bad way to start. I mean, it's a long way to go.

Despite a slight snowfall, some fans still drove to watch the game on large televisions in such Hendersonville hot spots as Hannah Flanagan's and The Dugout Sports Bar and Grill. Adversity, and overcoming it, is why second-seeded Duke from the East Region is taking on 15th-seeded Troy (22-14) at 7:20 p.m. Friday.

"It doesn't happen a lot", Allen said of helping up an opponent.

"We've developed our identity of a team", said Kennard, an All-ACC first-team selection who averages 20.1 points per game.

He is, in other words, so very Duke. That doesn't make Nova coach Jay Wright any less nervous.

South Carolina, by the way, helped create Duke basketball.

While the memory of Kris Jenkins' iconic buzzer-beating 3-pointer to edge North Carolina in the 2016 title game remains fresh, Villanova starts a new quest - to become college hoops' first back-to-back champion in 10 years on Thursday when it faces No. 16 seeded Mount St. Mary's in the East region. Duke ranks sixth in Division I, hitting almost 39 percent of its 3-point attempts. After the 1979-80 season, South Carolina's administration grew exhausted of playing in the National Invitation Tournament and forced Frank McGuire, their Hall of Fame coach, into retirement. This NCAA Tournament may be the biggest stage the senior plays on for the rest of his career.

Anyway, when Foster left, Duke administrators were listless.

I am no expert when it comes to picking these games, but there will be plenty of upsets along the way to the Final Four in Phoenix. It's not quite David versus Goliath - the Cyclones did win the Big 12 Tournament - but Iowa State will struggle to matchup against Purdue.

So there's some resentment.

Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament won't have much work to do if it wants to top a decidedly staid Day 1.

"I think that definitely united us", Allen said.

The junior finished with 21 points and was one of four Duke players in double figures-the Blue Devils made seven of their first 10 3-pointers and took advantage of their size advantage by shooting over the top of smaller Trojan defenders.

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