There’s no doubt about Duke’s power in the middle. Everything else, on the other hand…
Who? The Blue Devils of Duke.
When do they play in the first round? They will play Albany on Friday, March 20, at 12 p.m. ET.
What? They’re named for hardcore French soldiers.
Where? Durham, North Carolina, the Bull City.
Why? You put up 21 wins against the fourth toughest schedule in the country, you should be in the tournament.
How? They were an at-large selection.
Surprise? Predicted to finish second in the conference, they tied with Syracuse for fourth, four games behind Notre Dame.
Record: 21-10 (11-5 ACC)
Good wins: Taking down one of the Bluegrass State schools that was ranked 8 at the time they played; pick your poison of Louisville or Kentucky.
Bad losses: At Boston College. Three straight losses to end the regular season do not bode well for the Blue Devils, either. No shame in losing to Notre Dame, but Georgia Tech and NC State?
Who’s running this show? Joanne P. McCallie, since 2007. Best known for her big run at Michigan State.
Extra, Extra! The News and Observer
Duke is a tall, tall team, with only three players below six feet tall. Senior center Elizabeth Williams is one of three Blue Devils averaging 14 points or thereabouts, chipping in 8.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks as well. Freshman Azurá Stevens has made a splash as well, at 14.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. But Duke has had trouble hanging on to the ball. They’re going to need the big girls to be even bigger in the tournament.
Random note of blogger amusement: your intrepid blogger has, in fact, been hearing about Azurá Stevens for some time. Her older sister is well known around these parts.