For Duke, it’s unlikely but definitely possible.
Anyone can lose in the madness of the NCAA tournament’s opening round, including the No. 2-seeded Blue Devils.
They’ll head to Greenville, S.C., Friday to take on No. 15 Troy, the Sun Belt Conference champion. The game will tip at 7:20 p.m.
The two times Duke lost in its opening rounds both happened in North Carolina, where it is 34-6 in the tournament. First in 2012 with a 75-70 loss to No. 15 Lehigh, and then in 2014 with a 78-71 defeat by No. 14 Mercer.
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Both Blue Devils teams were highlighted by one-and-dones who were expected to carry Duke deep into the postseason.
Jabari Parker became the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft; Austin Rivers was taken at No. 10 overall in 2012.
Duke, now laced with star freshmen who are getting hot at the right time, starts its 41st tournament with Troy, a small university in southeast Alabama.
The Blue Devils have never before played the Trojans, whose only other NCAA tournament appearance was in 2003, when they lost, 71-59, to Xavier in the first round – in a bracket claimed by another notable one-and-done frosh: Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony.
So, who are the Troy Trojans?
The Sun Belt Conference champions
Like Duke, Troy had to win four games to claim its league tournament title, but it had a day of rest sandwiched between the first and second game. The Trojans knocked off regular-season champion Texas State in the final, leading by one point with less than 2 minutes remaining before pulling off a 59-53 victory.
Its last league championship was also in 2003.
A team that has turned things around
Last season, Troy was 9-22 and won just four conference games.
This season, the Trojans have flipped that into 22 wins. They have also gone 7-0 at neutral sites, a good thing as they are about to face Duke at Bon Secours Wellness Arena for the first time.
The home of Wesley Person Jr.
The son of Wesley Person Sr., a first-round pick in the 1994 NBA Draft, Person is in his junior season at Troy, and he is quite the three-point scorer. The 6-3 junior guard entered this year with an NCAA-best 60 consecutive games with a 3-pointer. He’s made 92 on the season, and shoots 40 percent from deep while averaging 3.1 treys a game.
Person will be up against a Duke three-point defense that has allowed 29.5 percent.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Troy
NCAA tournament Round of 64
When: 7:20 p.m. Friday
Where: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.