A couple of weeks back, the Duke Blue Devils were on their way to a forgetful season. But they have now recorded four wins in their last four games. After everyone had written them off, they are now on a late surge to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
They had a huge win over the Syracuse Orange last night, and they were led by freshman center Mark Williams. He starred with 18 points and 11 rebounds while shooting an impressive 9-11 from the field. He also had an amazing highlight play where he combined with senior guard Jordan Goldwire.
Early into the first half, Goldwire and Williams were leading a fastbreak. The veteran guard launched an audacious alley-oop pass right from the half-court logo towards Williams. The 19-year-old calculated his jump perfectly and finished the alley-oop with authority as the Syracuse defenders just watched helplessly.
It was a combination of superb passing and finishing executed to perfection by the Blue Devils.
One week ago, the Blue Devils stood a paltry 29% chance to qualify for the NCAA tournament. They had lost three games consecutively and had a losing record for the first time in decades. They managed to put an end to the losing streak and beat NC State but were dealt with another blow as Jalen Johnson opted to sit out for the rest of the season.
However, that didn’t deter their spirit. They followed it by crushing Wake Forest in their next game, in a commanding 84-60 win. With hopes slowly building for the NCAA tournament, they had a huge boulder in front as they face the Virginia Cavaliers. But they withstood the test and narrowly won 66-65 in a statement victory.
Last night’s win over the Orange just served as another reminder of the intention of the young Blue Devils team. They now stand a 60% chance to qualify for the NCAA tournament and could make it through an at-large bid.
The Blue Devils still have three games left, and it won’t be easy. They face the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday, followed by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Tuesday, and they end their season with a game against their rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels. They will aim to win as many as possible and keep their 24-year streak of qualification alive.