NCAA Men's Tournament at a Glance

Duke vs. Troy- 3/17/17 College Basketball Pick Odds and Prediction

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The Blue Devils don't always need help in this department, of course.

After last season's dream sequence of late-game shots concluding with the three-point dagger by Villanova's Kris Jenkins in the National Championship Game against North Carolina, it will be hard to eclipse that for most fans. This is not the first time that the Wildcats feel like they should have been ranked higher or at least have an easier route to the Final 4.

Grayson Allen had 21 points and was 5-of-9 on 3s to lead Duke.

North Carolina is a favorite in a lot of brackets. But Allen's dirty tricks on the court and tantrums on the bench earned him an early-season suspension, his draft stock appeared to plummet, Duke lost more games than expected, and Allen (14.1 ppg) seemed to lose his status as the team's top player while sophomore Luke Kennard and freshman Jayson Tatum stepped up to share that role. Kentucky's SEC tournament title has them set for a big run here in March.

Duke is nearly always among the favorites in the NCAA Tournament, and this year is no different. Even on opening weekend, weeks before the title game, that appetizing possibility was on the menu.

One last thing: We have created a group tournament challenge between the NPR Live team and other NPR staffers. I mean, it's a long way to go. "Nate shot it well last night, I think made two 3s last night, was five assists on our chart, no turnovers". "I actually came up here and went fishing".

Despite a slight snowfall, some fans still drove to watch the game on large televisions in such Hendersonville hot spots as Hannah Flanagan's and The Dugout Sports Bar and Grill. I will be cheering for the Mustangs and former Duke dude Semi Ojeleye, but I just can't see them getting past the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16.

Allen is as fundamentally sound and clutch as he is skilled at finding new ways to trip or kick opponents, maybe the finest Duke villain since J.J. Redick.

He's averaging 19 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and is one of 15 players named finalists for The Wooden Award, which is given annually to college basketball's most outstanding player.

In other words, it'll be like any night in the ACC.

After the Trojans cut Duke's 15-point lead to seven late in the first half, Allen capped a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key before igniting a 9-0 spurt that put the Blue Devils up 18 with about 12 minutes remaining.

Finally, after those cheers subsided, a few scattered boos rang out.

No.1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels (27-7) in the South Region takes on 16-seed Texas Southern Tigers (23-11) in the NCAA College Basketball Tournament. The Huskies beat the Blue Devils in a regional final in 2011, while a rematch three years later was spoiled when DePaul upset Duke in the second round. After the 1979-80 season, South Carolina's administration grew exhausted of playing in the National Invitation Tournament and forced Frank McGuire, their Hall of Fame coach, into retirement.

Anyway, when Foster left, Duke administrators were listless.

"You know, we're okay", coach Mike Krzyzewski said. The Shockers most recently claimed the MVC conference title, defeating Bradley, Missouri State and Illinois State in the title game with 71-51.

Over the last two NCAA tournaments No. 15 seeds are 5-3 ATS against No. 2 seeds, and they even pulled an upset a year ago when Middle Tennessee rocked Michigan State.

So there's some resentment. North Carolina was down two early. By then, the Blue Devils were already preparing for Sunday, when that evening - just after UNC finishes its game against Arkansas - Duke players and coaches will stride onto the floor as a collection of villains these parts have scarcely ever seen.

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