|Written by Michael|
Bet on NCAABAlthough the Duke Blue Devils and the Arizona Wildcats have not played each other in the NCAA tournament in a decade, Duke owns the series and is expected to easily handle Arizona. When the two teams meet on Thursday night for a 9:50 PM ET tip-off, people will be looking towards the Blue Devils' two historical wins over the team.
The two teams last met in the tournament in 2001, where Duke came away with an 11-point victory, overcoming the Wildcats 82-71. The team went on to win the NCAA title that year, as well as in 2010. In fact, Duke has remained one of the top teams in the country since that 2001 game.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Arizona. The 2010 NCAA tournament was the first time the school failed to make it to the Big Dance in over 25 years. The team went through a period of stagnation in the 2000s, resulting in the retirement of legendary coach Lute Olson and the hiring of Sean Miller.
This year, the Wildcats had a respectable season, going 29-7 overall and 14-4 in the Pac-10. The won the Pac-10 regular season title, and won two games in the Pac-10 tournament. They have earned their place in the Sweet Sixteen, but are they good enough to beat Duke?
The oddsmakers doubt it. The sportsbook considers the Blue Devils the 8.5 point favorites to advance Thursday night. The total is set at 144.5 Even though Arizona knocked off Texas to advance past the tournament's first weekend, it is hard to imagine the team advancing to the second weekend
In the end, Duke should come out of this game with another easy win and advance to the Elite Eight. The big surprise will be if the Wildcats make this one a close game. The last time Arizona won the tournament was in 1997, but they still have a lot of rebuilding to do to get back to that highest level of college basketball.