No. 2 seed Duke starts with Lehigh

jdaly@newsobserver.comMarch 12, 2012 

  • When: 7:15 p.m. Friday

    Where: Greensboro Coliseum

    TV: WRAL, WNCT

Twenty years after Christian Laettner's famous shot lifted Duke over Kentucky, the two programs are paired together again in the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Devils (27-6) earned a No. 2 seed in the South Regional and will open the tournament on Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum against Lehigh (26-7).

The Mountain Hawks won the Patriot League to pick up the region's No. 15 seed. While Duke will be prohibitive favorites in the first-round game, Lehigh cannot be counted out. The Mountain Hawks went to Michigan State just before Christmas and gave the Spartans everything they could handle, keeping the game within two possessions until the final minutes. They fell, 90-81.

Lehigh didn't lose a game by more than nine points all season.

If the Blue Devils win their opener, they will face either No. 7 seed Notre Dame (22-11) or No. 10 seed Xavier (21-11). Notre Dame is coached by Mike Brey, who served as an assistant under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

There are a lot of possibilities if Duke were to advance to the Sweet 16, but the most likely opponents would be No. 3 seed Baylor (27-7) or No. 6 seed UNLV (26-8). Kentucky - the top overall seed in the field - Indiana, Wichita State and Connecticut are among the teams on the other side of the bracket.

The South Regional semifinals and finals will be held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The NCAA tournament bracket highlights how difficult a schedule Duke had this season and how well it performed.

This season, the Blue Devils beat two No. 1 seeds (Michigan State and North Carolina), one No. 2 seed (Kansas), one No. 3 seed (Florida State) and one No. 4 (Michigan).

The Blue Devils hope to regain the services of Ryan Kelly. The junior forward missed the ACC tournament with a sprained right foot. Krzyzewski said during the ACC tournament that he was encouraged by Kelly's progress.

"We feel he has a chance to be ready, if we play Friday, to give us some help," Krzyzewski said before the pairings were announced.

Duke has made the NCAA tournament 28 of the last 29 years. The Blue Devils haven't been a No. 2 seed since 2009.

Daly: 919-829-4954

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