Duke-Georgia Tech Preview

Another ACC tournament title would be nothing new for Duke, but

it has been four years since the fourth-ranked Blue Devils entered

the field of 65 as a top seed.

Georgia Tech, meanwhile, will settle for seeing its name

anywhere in the bracket.

A No. 1 seed could be Duke’s prize if it can claim its

conference-record 18th tournament title Sunday afternoon in

Greensboro, while the Yellow Jackets’ first postseason ACC

championship in 17 years would remove the worry about possibly not

hearing their name called.

The Blue Devils (28-5) have won eight of the past 11 ACC

tournament titles, including a 79-69 triumph over Florida State

last year in Atlanta.

That was only good enough to earn Duke a No. 2 seed on selection

Sunday, the third straight season coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team has

fallen short of the top line in the NCAA tournament. It hasn’t

advanced past the regional semifinals since 2006.

Additionally, Duke’s last three Final Four appearances since

1999 have come as a top seed.

Now, with Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse expected to be No. 1

seeds, it appears the Blue Devils are in contention with Ohio State

and West Virginia for the remaining top spot.

While it would be tough to deny Duke a No. 1 with both the ACC’s

regular-season and tournament titles, Krzyzewski’s team was

preparing for Georgia Tech (22-11) just minutes after knocking off

Miami 77-74 in Saturday’s semifinal – its 16th win in 17 games as

the ACC tournament’s top seed.

“We are playing for a championship tomorrow,” forward Lance

Thomas said. “That is all we are thinking about.”

Duke is likely looking at a third straight No. 2 seed if it

can’t beat the Yellow Jackets, but its vast ACC title game

experience figures to give it a leg up on a team that hasn’t played

in one since 2005 – when it lost to the Blue Devils.

“We have been there, but if anything that just helps us knowing

how tough it is,” all-conference guard Jon Scheyer said after

scoring 16 points against the Hurricanes.

Georgia Tech will certainly have its eyes on Scheyer, as the

senior guard averaged 23.0 points and 6.5 assists in two

meetings.

The Yellow Jackets won 71-67 in Atlanta on Jan. 9 behind 21

points from Gani Lawal, but Duke got revenge a few weeks later.

Kyle Singler, who had 27 points, eight rebounds and six assists

against Miami, scored a career-high 30 points in an 86-67 win at

Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 4.

“Duke is a great team, a very talented team but we feel like

going into this game we are worried about what we do,” Lawal said.

“Not to be cocky or arrogant, we feel like if we establish

ourselves inside out like we did at Tech, we will have some good

results.”

Lawal and freshman Derrick Favors, the Yellow Jackets’ two

leading scorers, have taken a Georgia Tech team that came into the

ACC tournament on the bubble into one that could make its first

NCAA appearance since 2007 even with a loss Sunday.

Favors had a game-high 17 points Saturday and Lawal added 12

points and 10 rebounds – his 12th double-double – in a 57-54

semifinal win over North Carolina State.

Rather than worry about his team’s bubble status, Yellow Jackets

coach Paul Hewitt was only thinking of winning the program’s first

ACC tournament title since 1993.

“We’ve got a chance to make ourselves a lock tomorrow,” Hewitt

said, “and that is the mindset we have right now.”