Duke’s Season comes to an Abrupt End The Blue Devils needed an immaculate run to make the NCAA Tournament and were off to a great start after routing Boston College and Louisville. However, Covid-19 has forced them to shut down their season. Incredibly, this shutdown comes exactly one year to the day that the last college basketball games of the 2020 season were played, before Covid-19 shut down the 2019-2020 NCAA season. Everyone’s Favourite Villian This will be the first time since 1995 that Duke will not be playing in the NCAA Tournament and they will be sorely missed. For 24 straight NCAA tournaments, Mike Krzyzewski had stalked the sidelines and preyed on his competition. During that streak Duke amassed 3 National Titles, 5 Final Fours, 9 Elite Eights and 739 wins. Popularly viewed as the villains of college basketball, Duke has truly become a staple of March. From Mercer’s upset over Kyrie Irving’s Duke team to Grayson Allen’s coming out party in the 2015 National Title game, Duke always finds the spotlight in March. The tournament will sorely miss them, however while Duke’s season is over on the court, Coach K’s season is just beginning off the court as he prepares his roster for next season. This off-season’s goal is to get back to Duke’s roots and create program players. Trust The Process The off-season question mark is Matthew Hurt, the Sophomore took huge steps forward this year, but is still projected as a mid-late 2nd round pick. Returning to school on what will be an improved Duke team could help Hurt’s draft stock. If he was to improve and be on a dominant team, Hurt could vault into the late 1st round or if he took a huge jump even sneak into the lottery. 1st round picks get guaranteed NBA contracts, an invaluable asset, you can be sure Coach K will be trying to sell Hurt on that. Evidence shows being a 3-4 year player at Duke gives NBA prospects an increased chance of success. All three of the Plumlee brothers made the NBA and Mason/Miles both were drafted in the 1st round, despite playing four years at Duke. More recently, Grayson Allen parlayed his four years at Duke into being the 21st overall pick and Allen is now a key player for the Memphis Grizzlies. Hurt, frankly, has more offensive upside than those players and could benefit from another season or two under the tutelage of Mike Krzyzewski. March Madness Sleeper Duke will still keep their eyes on an exciting ACC Tournament, as their misfortune has become Florida State’s gain. The Seminoles now have a bye into the ACC Semifinals and will have a rest advantage over their opponent. It would be smart to jump on FSU’s NCAAB odds not only for the ACC Tournament, but the NCAA Tournament. My BetPicks free futures pick for an underdog in March is the Florida State Seminoles (26/1 at 888Sport). An athletic team with tons of size, the Seminoles could be a match-up nightmare in March.