East Region: NDSU vs Duke Prediction
NDSU vs Duke Preview
North Dakota State (19-15) earned a hard-fought 78-74 victory over NC Central in the First Four on Wednesday. Their prize for advancing? Top overall seed Duke.
The Bisons four-point victory was originally a 13-point lead that evaporated quickly.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” North Dakota State coach Dave Richman said. “And they certainly didn’t let it be easy for us, too. But extremely proud of our guys’ resolve. It’s March and we’re excited to keep dancing.”
“We’re excited it’s Duke,” Richman said. “We’re excited to be playing, whoever it was. We’ve got to turn our guys around, enjoy this for a little bit and prepare for Friday night.”
North Dakota State guard Jared Samuelson said it’s necessary to embrace the task.
“We’re ready for the challenge, ready to go compete,” he said.
Good luck NDSU, you’ll need it.
Duke, the overall No. 1 seed for the tournament, starts its quest for a national championship Friday night at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.
So it’s like a homecoming for Williamson.
“Just trying to win a national championship and playing in all these tough games because that is why you come to Duke, to compete and hopefully hang a banner,” Williamson said.
Williamson played in three games last week upon returning from an absence of more than three weeks because of a sprained knee. He helped lift the Blue Devils to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title and received Most Valuable Player honors in the process.
He’s from Spartanburg, S.C., so his action in Columbia will likely mark his only collegiate appearances in his home state. Duke didn’t play this season at Clemson.
Without Williamson this season the Blue Devils are 3-3 and did not look like a typical Coach K type team without their star.
Duke forward RJ Barrett (22.9 points per game) and Williamson (22.1) are the top two scorers in the ACC. With Williamson’s return, Barrett’s role shouldn’t be as taxing.
“We have been very good as a team when everybody’s together,” Barrett said. “… It’s March Madness. There will be a lot of crazy times and I just can’t wait to be a part of it.”
With a healthy Duke squad it’s not if they will win, but by how much?
LINE: -27 Duke
Dan’s Bet: -27 Duke
Bracket Pick: Duke
Score Prediction: Duke 99 NDSU 50