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The NCAA March Madness Tournament officially starts on Thursday, but the fun begins today by filling out your bracket. WSN will preview all the games throughout the Big Dance, so check out every article.
This article will preview the 5-seeded Duke Blue Devils against the 12-seeded Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. It’s the classic 5 vs 12 matchups that fans love to pick in an upset in their brackets. The higher seed in this matchup wins 35% of the time and has won at least once in five of the last six March Madness Tournaments.
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Duke enters this tournament as the lowest seed since 2007. But the Blue Devils are streaking at the right time after an up-and-down season.
Starting the season 10-2 with wins against Iowa, Xavier, and Ohio State, Duke was poised for another strong campaign. But the Blue Devils found themselves losing four of their next eight games and going unranked in the AP poll for several weeks.
It wasn’t until back-to-back ranked losses in early February to Miami (FL) and Virginia that Duke showed their potential. They would end the season on a nine-game win streak, win the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, and finish the year with a 26-8 record.
Duke went 5-6 in Quad 1 and 7-2 in Quad 2 results this season. Their best win came against Xavier earlier in the season, and their worst loss came against Wake Forest on the road. The Blue Devils also lost non-conference games to Purdue and Kansas.
Duke, though, went a combined 14-0 in Quad 3 and Quad 4 games in 2022.
The Blue Devils are led by freshman forward Kyle Filipowski and junior guard Jeremy Roach. Most of Duke’s points will come from these two. In 26 of 34 games this season, Filipowski or Roach led the team in scoring.
Filipowski is a five-star recruit and has been Duke’s best scorer this year. He has been a menace for the Blue Devils, averaging 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, both best on the team. The freshman helped lead his team to an ACC Championship by adding 20 points and 10 rebounds against Virginia in the final.
As for Roach, he’s the veteran of the team. He’s second on the team in points (13.3), assists (3.1), and steals (0.9) per game. He’s been heating up for the Blue Devils down the stretch and could be a big factor in the tournament.
A lot of people will remember Oral Roberts from the 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament. The Golden Eagles entered as a 15 seed and faced 2-seeded Ohio State in the first round.
After defeating the Buckeyes in an overtime thriller, Oral Roberts went on to beat 7-seeded Florida in the Round of 32. Unfortunately, their run ended in the Sweet 16 with a narrow 72-70 defeat against 3-seeded Arkansas.
People will also remember sophomore guard Max Abmas, who averaged over 26 points for the Golden Eagles in the tournament. Well, good news, he’s still on that team and now has experience in the Big Dance.
Oral Roberts played some solid competition early in the season against three tournament teams: Houston, Utah State, and Saint Mary’s. But they lost all three games, and none were particularly close.
But like Duke, the Golden Eagles are red-hot entering the tournament. They ended the season on a 17-game winning streak and are winners of the Summit League. The Golden Eagles also finished with an 18-0 record in that conference.
Oral Roberts was 0-4 in Quad 1 and 1-0 in Quad 2 results, though they finished the year with a 30-4 record.
The Golden Eagles can score basketball almost better than anyone in the country. They averaged 84.2 points per game this season, third best in Division I. KenPom also ranks them 23rd overall in adjusted offensive efficiency.
That’s thanks in large part to Abmas. The senior guard added 22.2 points per game on the year to go with 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists. His 22.2 points ranked sixth in all of Division I.
But, Abmas has a better-supporting cast than he did on the 2021 Oral Roberts team.
Connor Vanover might be the tallest player in college basketball, standing at 7-foot-5. The Arkansas transfer put together a solid campaign on the year: 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game. Isaac McBride can also score when needed to after scoring 10-plus points in 25 of 34 games.
Duke and Oral Roberts both enter the tournament red hot. But the sportsbooks are siding with the five seed by a sizable margin. The Blue Devils are currently a 6.5 favorite over the Golden Eagles, which is the biggest margin between a 5 seed and 12 seed in the first round this year.
Oral Roberts hasn’t played at the level of talent that Duke has played this season.
But the Blue Devils don’t want to get into a scoring shootout with them. Duke’s offense can struggle to generate shots on offense at times, which could hurt them against a team like Oral Roberts.
The Blue Devils are also a young team and don’t have much postseason experience. Four of their top five scorers are freshmen, and only Filipowski averages double figures.
However, Duke does get stops when it needs to. They gave up just 63.9 points this season and ranked top 65 nationally in defensive rating. The Blue Devils have allowed over 70 points just once over their last ten games.
Abmas is going to do his thing on the court and probably have another big performance. But outside of him, Oral Roberts doesn’t have another star, and that will cost the Golden Eagles.
Location: Orlando, FL, Amway Center
Game Time & Date: 3/16 @ 7:10 ET
TV Network: CBS
Streaming: CBS Sports App, Paramount+
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Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.More info on Michael Savio
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