After an impressive regular season, Duke is heading to the NCAA tournament as the No.1 overall seed. The Blue Zone breaks down the Blue Devils’ path to the championship:
Duke has had what can only be described as an incredible regular season. The Blue Devils went 13-2 in their 2023 campaign, dropping games to only then-No. 17 Jacksonville and then-No. 2 Notre Dame. Beyond those two losses, the season was just about as perfect as it could get. Duke swept its season series against Virginia and beat other strong squads in Pennsylvania, Syracuse and Loyola.
The talent present in this year’s group is something special as well. The Blue Devils have been led by junior attackman Brennan O’Neill, who has started every game this season and leads the team in points with 80 thus far. The Bay Shore, N.Y., native has been one of the best offensive weapons not only on his team, but in the entire country. His 5.33 points per game are good for third in the nation while he ranks second in total points.
O’Neill’s production has not come without help, as senior attacker Dyson Williams has led the team in goals with 51 and ranks second in total points. The other key position has been between the pipes, where graduate transfer goalie William Helm has demonstrated dominance. He has posted a .517 save percentage and 10.71 goals against average. Despite a few missteps here and there, Duke has put itself in a prime position to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Now in the playoffs, the Blue Devils will likely have an easier time through the first round as they will not face a group ranked in the top ten nationally until the quarterfinals. In the initial set of matchups, Duke will face the winner of a play-in game between Marist and Delaware, where they will be heavily favored to come out on top. From there, the squad from Durham will see the winner of Michigan and No.8-seed Cornell. If Duke comes away with a win there, it will most likely be staring down the barrel of a third matchup with Virginia or a shot at redemption against Notre Dame.
Regardless of who Duke faces in each round of the tournament, they will likely be favored until at least the quarterfinals. The Blue Devils have proven themselves to be one of the best squads in the country and will have the chance to prove it in the coming days. Duke will face some new faces and familiar foes, but if they can keep playing like they did through much of the regular season, then the Blue Devils could very well hoist their fourth national championship trophy and their first since 2014.
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