DURHAM — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Monday that he thinks the Blue Devils and rival North Carolina deserve to open their NCAA tournament play in Charlotte next week.
Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena will play host to NCAA tournament games on Friday, March 18, and Sunday, March 20.
In the most recent Top 25 poll released by The Associated Press on Monday, two days after the Tar Heels' 81-67 win over Duke, the Blue Devils (27-4) were ranked No. 5 and North Carolina (24-6) right behind them at No. 6.
When possible, the NCAA tournament selection committee tries to keep teams with regional seeds of No. 1 through No. 4 close to home.
Duke and North Carolina both seem certain to secure one of those seeds, but if they are both assigned to play in Charlotte, they would be in separate "pods" or brackets and wouldn't face each other there.
"We probably should be there, and I'd rather be there," Krzyzewski said during a news conference Monday, "because it's closer, and ... it's Friday-Sunday, too. So if you do go to Sunday in the ACC championship game, it's really a lot better for both of the two teams that play Sunday to be given a Friday-Sunday thing."
During the ACC coaches' teleconference Monday, North Carolina coach Roy Williams also sounded receptive to playing in Charlotte.
"I'm sure that we would all love it, but you've heard me say before - it's not just where you play, but how you play when you get there," he said. "But there's no question it would be a lot easier for everybody, just to travel and the accessibility for our parents and fans and everyone."
Williams said he doesn't pay attention to seeding but laughed and said he prefers to play some place where there is warm weather.
Ohio State (No. 1 in The AP and coaches' rankings), Kansas (No. 2) and Pittsburgh (No. 3) are favorites to secure three of the No. 1 regional seeds. But there's a chance Duke or North Carolina could secure a No. 1 seed, too.
Krzyzewski said he expects Duke to be rewarded for its strong regular season with a high seed.
"I would think it's at least a 2, no matter what happens [in the ACC tournament]," Krzyzewski said. "And it could be a 1."
Krzyzewski's players remained frustrated Monday with their performance two nights earlier with the conference regular-season title on the line in Chapel Hill.
The Blue Devils broke down defensively against the Tar Heels and gave up 51 first-half points.
"We feel like we could have won that game if we had the right mindset and effort to stop them," Duke senior guard Nolan Smith said. "... I think everybody's mad. They know we messed up."
With spring break taking place this week, players will have extra time to improve and catch up on their rest as they prepare to meet the N.C. State-Maryland winner at 7 p.m. Friday in the ACC tournament quarterfinals in Greensboro.
"We haven't had just a week to get better and practice in a while," junior center Mason Plumlee said.
Staff writer Robbi Pickeral contributed to this report.
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