With the Duke Blue Devils falling in the 2014 ACC Championship game, there was no way that they could really sneak into a No. 1 or No. 2 overall seed. However, Duke, by earning the No. 3 seed, will get to face off against a much tougher opponent than many of the other top teams in college basketball by facing the Mercer Bears in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 21st.
Mercer won the Atlantic Sun title over last year’s Cinderella team, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, to seal their automatic bid in the Big Dance. The Bears, after an impressive close loss to the Texas Longhorns to start the season, will be a lot of people’s favorite to pull of the opening upset of the tournament. However, their best wins of the season came against the Seton Hall Pirates and the Ole Miss Rebels, who are two teams that came nowhere near a 2014 NCAA Tournament berth.
What to Watch For:
Mercer has a talented point guard in Langston Hall, who is averaging 14.7 points per game and nearly six assists, but Jabari Parker is going to have a field day against his less-talented opponents. Expect Parker to easily cruise to another double-double.
This game will surprise many at first, as an overconfident Duke team gets caught off guard by the speed of Hall and the strength of Bears’ senior forward Daniel Coursey. Don’t be surprised if the game is close or tied at halftime. However, Parker will overpower Coursey in the second half and Rodney Hood will take over the game and lead Duke to a comfortable victory.
Duke 72, Mercer 60