There’s a whole lot going on in Duke athletics at the moment, so the Blue Zone is here with a breakdown of all sports that have wrapped up their regular season and are currently competing in postseason play.
The road to a second-straight national title began May 10 for the Blue Devils at the NCAA Columbus Regional in Columbus, Ohio. Duke is a No. 1 seed and is heavily favored to win the regional, let alone finish as one of the top six teams that will proceed to the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz., from May 21-26.
At a minimum, Duke has one thing going for it that no other team does: it is the reigning national champions. On top of that, both junior Gina Kim and senior Jaravee Boonchant were members of the 2019 NCAA Championship-winning team, so they each know what it takes to come out on top of this 72-team field.
Duke has a serious uphill battle if it wants to find its way to the championship week of golf. The Blue Devils received an at-large bid to the Noblesville, Ind., regionals where they will take part in a 13-team field in hopes of being one of the top-five teams in the region to move onto the NCAA Championships.
The Blue Devils are coming off a poor performance at the ACC tournament, and they are going to need to be firing on all cylinders to break into the top-five of their very talented region led by Texas and North Carolina. Freshman Ian Siebers was a lone bright spot at the ACC tournament for Duke, but it’s going to take more than a stellar Siebers performance to send the Blue Devils to Scottsdale, Ariz.
Duke will head into the NCAA tournament as the No. 2 seed and have what should be a very winnable matchup with High Point in the first round of the NCAA tournament. After that, though, it gets hairy for the Blue Devils. Duke would play the winner of the Denver-Loyola Maryland contest which will likely be Denver, so the Blue Devils will find themselves in a rematch against a Denver team they narrowly beat in the first game of the regular season.
If Duke makes it past Denver, it will have a punched ticket to Hartford, Conn., for the Final Four with the other three teams gunning for a national championship. Predicting the shakeout of the Final Four is meaningless in such a talent-rich lacrosse pool, but if the Blue Devils find their way in, they will have as good a chance as any at hoisting the trophy.
Duke drew the No. 7 seed for the NCAA tournament, earning a home matchup with Mount St. Mary’s in the first round. At a quick schedule glance, it would look as if the Blue Devils were on an abysmal two-game skid with no momentum heading into the NCAA tournament, but that is far from the truth.
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Duke’s past two contests have been gutsy comeback attempts that just fell short, and while that certainly needs to change if it wants any sort of tournament success, the Blue Devils are in a good spot prior to their first round game. Gabby Rosenzweig’s transfer has been a welcome addition to Duke’s offense all year long, and Catriona Barry played at a high level for the entire month of April, so there’s a real chance that we see the Blue Devils in Towson, Md., for the Final Four.
Rowing is yet to partake in the ACC Championship, but that doesn’t mean the team has been on vacation for the past few weeks. Head coach Megan Cooke Carcagno stressed the importance of training hard during the three-week lull between Duke’s last meet and the ACC Championship, and the time to put the training to test will be this Friday and Saturday.
The Blue Devils are certainly going to need to have taken advantage of the time without regattas, as in-conference foe Virginia has won 10 consecutive ACC championships and isn’t showing any signs of breaking that streak this year. Fortunately for Duke, it is coming off a win in its last regatta and will have been able to use its off-time to fine tune any areas of its overall technique that it feels will be a difference-maker against the Hokies.
Track and field
Duke will compete in the ACC Outdoor Championships May 13-15 after a stellar team showing at the Duke Twilight. The Blue Devils have a number of athletes who look to already be qualified for the regional round of the NCAA tournament including Erin Marsh and Brittany Aveni who have each qualified for three separate individual events.
In order to qualify for the regional round, you must be one of the top 48 times in the individual events, one of the top 24 times for the relay events or one of the top 24 times in a combined event. Despite the solid number of Blue Devils already in position to qualify, they will have one last shot at the ACC tournament to secure a spot on the leaderboards and into the preliminary NCAA tournament round.
Things are going ever so sweet for the Blue Devils, as Kelly Chen just sent Duke to the Sweet 16 with her comeback against Baylor to steal the lone singles point remaining and give the Blue Devils the 4-3 win. Their next match will be May 16 against No. 9-seed Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.
If there was ever a time for a team to use a momentum-boosting win to its full advantage, it’s now. Chen, Meible Chi and Georgia Drummy are all particularly hot after Duke’s most recent matches, and that’s something the Blue Devils will need to capitalize on as they try to move past the Golden Knights and onto the next round.
Outside of one rough patch, Duke has been rolling all season long and is currently riding a 12-game win streak into the ACC tournament. The bats have come out extra strong lately, putting the Blue Devils as the No. 3 seed and giving them a first-round bye in the ACC tournament.
Duke will play Louisville, which the Blue Devils took three games from in their April series, in the first round of the ACC tournament Thursday. After the Cardinals, Duke will likely have No. 2-seed Florida State, giving the Blue Devils a chance at redemption since they dropped all three games to the Seminoles earlier in the season. Regardless of how far Duke goes in the conference tournament, a bid to the NCAA tournament is likely headed its way on May 16 when tournament selections are made.