NEW YORK—On Thursday, an eight-loss Duke team was projected to be a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

That was hours before the Blue Devils' comeback win against No. 10 Louisville.

Then, Duke was going to be a No. 3 seed depending on the outcome of its ACC tournament semifinal against rival North Carolina. After the Blue Devils picked up a second win against a Tar Heel team that entered the week thinking it was almost a lock for a No. 1 seed, Duke was suddenly on the No. 2 line.

The question after the Blue Devils knocked off No. 22 Notre Dame to win a historic ACC tournament title became whether the selection committee would make Duke the first eight-loss team to earn a No. 1 seed?

On one hand, the Blue Devils racked more RPI top-50 and RPI top-25 wins than any other team in the country, and six of Duke’s losses came with either key rotation players or head coach Mike Krzyzewski out. 

But the argument against the Blue Devils was that the regular-season body of work still mattered and injuries and quality wins could not erase a home loss to N.C. State and losses to Syracuse and Miami even after Krzyzewski returned. 

The debate raged on for most of the day before it was finally settled—Duke will be the No. 2 seed in the East region, opening NCAA tournament play Friday at 7:20 p.m. against 15th-seeded Troy. The placement was announced during the annual selection show Sunday evening, with the Tar Heels getting a No. 1 seed after their ACC regular-season title and being joined by Villanova, Kansas and Gonzaga as top seeds. 

After becoming the first team ever to win four ACC tournament games en route to the conference title, the Blue Devils will look to stay hot this weekend at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. No. 1 overall seed Villanova and third-seeded Baylor are among the teams that could stand in Duke's path to the Final Four if the Blue Devils advance to the tournament's second weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York. 

However, the team's one-day-at-a-time mentality led it to glory in New York, with Grayson Allen and Harry Giles playing big minutes to give Krzyzewski's unit depth and strength no one knew it had. 

"We haven't paid any attention to standings or seeds for this tournament or rankings. We just haven't— we haven't talked at all about that because so much has happened. We just said, 'Let's talk about us and let's get better,'" Krzyzewski said after Saturday's win. "It's worked.... And hopefully, we can take that same attitude into the next tournament."

The Blue Devils vaulted ahead of several of the nation's top teams with the best four-day run any team has put together this season. No. 14 Duke beat the 10th-ranked Cardinals Friday, No. 6 North Carolina Saturday and the 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish Sunday, overcoming second-half deficits of at least eight points in each contest. 

Those victories gave the Blue Devils arguably the best body of work for any eight-loss team ever, with two wins against North Carolina and Notre Dame as well as victories against Louisville, Florida State and Virginia. Four of those wins came away from Cameron Indoor Stadium, and a neutral-site win against Florida in December during nonconference play also boosted the Blue Devils' resume. 

The catalyst for many of those wins was sophomore Luke Kennard, who has played at least 36 minutes in 13 straight games and led Duke in scoring with 20.1 points per contest. The sharpshooter was often the team's only reliable playmaker when the Blue Devils were banged up, but he was all smiles this week in New York knowing that more of his teammates have joined the fray. 

"I've done as much as I could to help our team win, to bring success to our team, to this program, and I'm blessed to be able to share that with these guys," Duke's first-team All-ACC guard and ACC tournament MVP said. "We're happy right now, and we're looking forward to our next step this season."

Now one of the favorites to win the national title, the Blue Devils will look to become the first team to win the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament championships in the same season since they did it in 2010.

After losing three of four in January, many thought Duke's pieces did not fit, but Krzyzewski's decision to start Frank Jackson ahead of Allen—even with the All-American healthy—and to keep Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson in prominent roles around potent scorers in Jayson Tatum and Kennard has now made those concerns look silly. 

"It's been a different year for me than any that I've coached and a remarkable year," said Krzyzewski, who missed seven games because of lower-back surgery in January and February before winning a record 14th ACC tournament title. "We were always together, and all that [adversity] made us more together.... I think that closeness paid off for us."

Despite their closeness and improvement in the last week, the Blue Devils have played 16 straight games decided by 10 points or fewer, and will need to recover quickly and start fast in the first weekend of the Big Dance to keep building momentum. 

"It was a tough week, definitely. But we take every game one step at a time," Jackson said. "We do the proper things to get our bodies right physically and mentally. We can’t complain. We've just got to play hard and come prepared every time we play."