Duke, coming off a historic run through the ACC tournament, will start the third part of its season on Friday in the NCAA tournament in Greenville, S.C.
The Blue Devils (27-8) earned the No. 2 seed in the East region after winning four games in four days for their 20th ACC title and first since 2011. Duke will begin its pursuit of a sixth NCAA title under coach Mike Krzyzewski with No. 15 Troy (22-14) in the first round at 7:20 p.m. on Friday (TBS).
After the matchup with the Sun Belt champion, the bracket could get interesting for the Blue Devils. If the Blue Devils win and No. 10 Marquette beats No. 7 South Carolina in the first round, Krzyzewski will be up against his former player and assistant in Steve Wojciechowski, a point guard at Duke from 1994 to 1998. He was a Duke assistant from 1999 until 2014, when he took over at Marquette.
If Duke wins and draws South Carolina, the Gamecocks would have the advantage of being in a home atmosphere. South Carolina was 15-3 at home, one of three SEC teams with three or fewer home losses and went 4-1 in neutral-site games.
The NCAA moved the first- and second-round games from Greensboro, which would have given Duke more of a home crowd advantage, to Greenville last year due to the discriminatory aspects of House Bill 2.
The last time the Blue Devils were in the East region was in 2009, when they fell to Villanova in the Sweet 16 – also as the No. 2 seed. Duke is 26-9 in the tournament as a No. 2 seed.
If all goes according to seed, Duke would get another shot at Villanova, the No. 1 seed in the East and the 2016 national champion, in the Final Eight in New York. Duke has a 7-4 lead all-time against the Wildcats, meeting them four times in the tournament. The teams are 2-2 in the postseason matchups.
Villanova (31-3) will start the tournament against the winner of the New Orleans-Mount Saint Mary’s “First Four” game.
Troy, the No. 6 seed in the Sun Belt Conference tournament, took down Texas State, 59-53, Sunday to claim the conference title. The Trojans defeated No. 2 seed Georgia State and No. 3 seed Georgia Southern en route to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003.
Troy sophomore forward Jordon Varnado (6-6, 215 pounds) leads the team with 16.5 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Nine ACC teams, including Florida State, Wake Forest, Miami and North Carolina, made the tournament.
No. 5 Virginia (22-10) and No. 9 Virginia Tech (22-10) are in the top half of the bracket.
Duke was in the South Region for its last two championships. In both 2010 and 2015, the Blue Devils were the top seed in that region.
Duke is third all-time with 16 Final Four appearances, its last ending with a 68-63 victory over Wisconsin for the program’s fifth national title in 2015.
In its last five Final Four appearances, Duke was the No. 1 seed either in the South or the East.
Duke has been the No. 1 seed seven times, No. 2 four times and No. 3 once in its history of Final Fours. Duke has appeared in 12 championship games, with a 107-35 tournament record, 88-26 under Krzyzewski.
The Blue Devils’ last Final Four out of the East bracket ended with an 82-72 national championship win over Arizona in 2001 as the top seed. They were No. 1 in the East in 1999, too, but fell to Connecticut 77-74 in that national final.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Duke’s Final Four appearances and seeds* under Coach K
2015 South Region No. 1 (national championship)
2010 South Region No. 1 (national championship)
2004 South Region No. 1 (lost in national semifinal)
2001 East Region No. 1 (national championship)
1999 East Region No. 1 (lost in national championship)
1994 Southeast Region No. 2 (lost in national championship)
1992 East Region No. 1 (national championship)
1991 Midwest Region No. 2 (national championship)
1990 East Region No. 3 (lost in national championship)
1989 East Region No. 2 (lost in national semifinal)
1988 East Region No. 2 (lost in national semifinal)
1986 East Region No. 1 (lost in national championship)
*seedings started in 1979