March Madness Round 64 Preview
Iona vs. Duke
With one of the most talented freshman classes in recent NCAA history, Duke earned a No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils take aim at another deep run through the bracket beginning with Thursday’s date with 15th-seeded Iona in Pittsburgh.
This is the 23rd straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament for Duke, which finished second in the ACC during the regular season and then fell to rival North Carolina in the semifinals of the league tournament. Marvin Bagley Jr. (21.1 points, 11.5 rebounds per game) and Wendell Carter Jr. (13.8, 9.3) highlight the Blue Devils’ young front line, while Gary Trent Jr. (14.3 points, 85 3-pointers) is their top freshman on the perimeter. Grayson Allen (15.7 points) helped Duke secure a national championship as a freshman and is back for a final go-round in hopes of bookending his career with NCAA Tournament titles. The first team in his path is a Gaels squad that won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference as the No. 4 seed in the league tournament.
TV: 2:45 p.m., ET, CBS
ABOUT IONA (20-13): The Gaels average nearly 80 points per game and were led in the MAAC championship game by a pair of transfers, Roland Griffin and Zach Lewis. Griffin, who averages 10.9 points, exploded for 29 in the title game, while Lewis had 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Five Iona players average at least 10 points per game, led by Rickey McGill (13.5), who made only 5-of-22 shots during the league tournament, although he had a career-high 40 points in the regular-season finale.
ABOUT DUKE (26-7): The Blue Devils will continue to feed the 6-11 Bagley, who has three straight double-doubles and is averaging 24.3 points and 15 rebounds over that stretch. Trent led the team with 20 points in the loss to North Carolina, while Carter pitched in 14 points and nine boards in a game where only four players scored for Duke, as Bagley added 19 and Allen 16. First-year point guard Trevon Duval was 0-of-6 from the field versus the Tar Heels and has not scored more than seven points in any of his last six games.
1. The winner of this game will match up with either No. 7 Rhode Island or No. 10 Oklahoma in the Round of 32.
2. The Blue Devils have won five national championships and have advanced to the Final Four 12 times.
3. Duke ranks eighth nationally in scoring (84.7), and six of their top seven scorers have made at least 19 3-pointers.