Virginia Topples Duke

Joe Harris goes in for a lay-up against Duke - Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

Being a top ranked team can be a blessing and it can be a curse. Lately, it’s been more of a curse.

No.3 Duke became the latest top-five squad to get knocked off on Thursday night, falling to the unranked, but very underrated Virginia Cavaliers 73-68.

Virginia guard Joe Harris enjoyed the best game of his life, scoring a career-high 36 points against the mighty Duke Blue Devils, which is the highest total put up on Duke by an individual player since Al Thornton scored 37 against the Blue Devils in 2006.

“Harris was fantastic, which we knew he would be. He’s just one of the best players in the country,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, via ESPN.com. “When you have a guy playing at that level … it brings everybody up. You know you’re playing with a stud.”

The win marked the first time in 11 years that Virginia had defeated a top five ranked team and ironically, that win also came against the Blue Devils, who were also coincidentally ranked No. 3 in the country at the time.

Virginia’s victory gave them a huge resume boost in terms of the NCAA tournament, while it spoiled Duke’s chance at a No.1 seed in the ACC Tournament, which has now been locked up by the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes are Devils will meet this weekend in what may be a preview of that ACC Tournament final.

Meanwhile, after an Indiana loss this week and a narrow victory for Gonzaga over BYU on Thursday night, the Bulldogs will almost assuredly climb to the No. 1 spot for the first time in school history and with only a couple of games remaining on the regular season schedule, it’s not out of the question that the Zags could be the No.1 team in the polls heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Even still, the fact remains that the Bulldogs have only beaten one ranked team all season and their only two losses came against ranked opponents. Meanwhile, teams like Duke, Michigan and Indiana have knocked off numerous top squads, at home and on the road this season.

But whoever you consider the No. 1 team in the nation to be, you can’t deny that this will likely be one of the most wide open fields to enter the NCAA Tournament. That will generate a lot of excitement for fans, but will be a big headache for bettors, as they search for that perfect under-the-radar dark horse squad. Then again, maybe that team is the Virginia Cavs?

Be sure to check back next week as teams gear up for their respective conference tournaments. We’ll have the scoop on who the real contenders are and the best odds on the frontrunning teams.

 

 

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