NCAA Round 1: Belmont vs. Duke

We just witnessed the best game of the tournament. It won’t be topped. Duke held off Belmont 71-70. Alabama’s loss to Belmont doesn’t look so bad now. Does this help the Tide’s RPI?

Unlike the vast majority of Alabama fans, I love Duke. I always have. I remember watching Duke defeat UNLV. I remember Coach K before he had 600 wins.

I’ve always been perplexed at reading Alabama message boards and talking with co-workers who are Alabama fans who hate Duke. The reason? They win too much. Dick Vitale loves them.

It makes no sense to me.

Those are the same types of reasons you’d expect from an Auburn fan. It really is nothing but jealousy. I’d expect Alabama fans to appreciate excellence, and Coach K has set an amazing record for excellence in college basketball.

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Some important lessons from the game:
Belmont and Duke both have great guard play. Guard play can make the difference; it’ll be good to have Ronald Steele back and healthy. (Well, I’m crossing my fingers anyway for next year.)

Both teams played impressive defense. You know Duke plays great defense, but Belmont’s defense forced Duke to do some things they did not want to do—poor shot selection, etc.

It just illustrates how critical it is to pressure. You can’t get a good look at the hoop when someone is in your face.

Belmont and Duke hustled. They wanted to win. They played with a sense of urgency. It would be nice to see that type of intensity return to Alabama. I haven’t seen Alabama play with a mission since Wimp Sanderson coached.

One last word on Belmont, that team deserved a higher seeding.