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Prediction: The NCAA’s new plan will put Duke in the tournament

(Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

(Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

Earlier today the NCAA announced its big plans for how it will replace teams that have to drop out of the tournament with COVID issues. You can read it here if you haven’t already.

Now let’s talk about these First Four alternates and a nightmare situation that could arise.

As the policy is written, only the First Four teams out of the tournament will be considered as replacements for any tournament teams that have to bow out. Right now those First Four are Stanford, UConn, Duke and Richmond, in that order, although Duke is playing so well the Blue Devils could be the first of the four when they’re announced on Selection Sunday.

The NCAA made it clear the bracket will not be changed once it’s revealed on March 14, so if any of those four teams are called up, they will slide into whatever spot was left vacant by the team that withdrew.

So let’s say you’re our friends down at Alabama and you’re given a No. 2 seed in the tournament, as ESPN’s Bracketology currently projects. Your opponent is the No. 15 seed in your region, currently James Madison or whatever team earns the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic bid.

But, oh no, James Madison’s starting point guard and social media manager flunked a rapid test on the way out of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Now you have to play Duke, one of the hottest teams in the country right now, in the first round? It seems incredibly unfair, but it’s the policy. We could have a 15-seed Duke or even a 16-seed Duke in the play-in game to meet Gonzaga in the first round. What a world.

Now let’s put on our tinfoil conspiracy hats. We’ll use Duke as the example again because Duke.

Let’s say Duke is indeed the first of the First Four Out, slotted as the No. 1 seed in the NIT barring any complications in the Big Dance. How are we going to believe any team that drops out to let them in? If only one team needs one slip up to put Duke in the tournament, it will absolutely happen and the nation will suspect funny business from the NCAA… Oh sorry, Colgate, it looks like the receptionist at your hotel tested positive and now we’re putting Duke in your place…. Colorado State, we regret to inform you that the pilot on your team flight was a false negative and your entire team shared an airplane with him so you can’t play. We’re calling Duke now.

Basically what I’m saying is this new rule is the Duke rule and my stance won’t change unless Kentucky benefits from it.

However, if Kentucky is one of the four alternates, ignore everything I just said and root for chaos. But that’s unlikely because Kentucky is getting in with its 32nd SEC Tournament championship.

NCAA announces plans for replacing tournament teams that have to withdraw


Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

22 Comments for Prediction: The NCAA’s new plan will put Duke in the tournament

  1. VirginiaCat
    5:16 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    Drew, using your example of Alabama vs. James Madison, what if it’s Alabama that vacates its spot. Does that mean that Duke or the other “first outs” could slip into a #2 seed? It seems possible based on the way that you describe the process.

    • Megan
      6:00 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

      Yes, that’s where I thought he was going with it. Duke slips in to replace a high seed and take over its relatively easier path to the Final Four. Eh, I’m not going to worry about it.

    • ibescootch
      9:16 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

      Yeah, I thought that was the direction he was going too. If you’re #1 Gonzaga, scheduled to play #16 Random College, why would you care if they’re replaced by Duke? It doesn’t matter how hot Duke is, they weren’t better than the 63 teams between them and Gonzaga in the first place!

      I’d be more wary of the opposite happening- #1 Gonzaga has to withdraw, and Duke steps in as the top overall seed with a significantly easier journey through the bracket than if it was flipped.

    • Glam Girl
      6:20 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

      I thought it read to say that teams would be placed according to their resume….maybe I misread

    • ukkatzfan
      6:33 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

      Why stop there. Weird year. East puke State makes the cinderella walk all the way to the final game to play #2 seed Alabama. Alabama is a 36 point favorite until it is discovered there ball boy is the holder of a false positive. Luckily the ncaa can step in with their cape on to save the day with duke playing E. puke St.

  2. Wildfelinebeeline
    5:48 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    Duck Fuke!

  3. Papaw
    6:47 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    Duke could go winless and still make the tourney

    • BobbyBlue
      7:04 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

      Think I will just find somewhere to throw up.

  4. jim tom
    7:24 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    I hope Duke does get in so I can watch them get their ass kicked as The Rat snarls and stomps off the floor with another excuse

  5. VirginiaCat
    7:59 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    As I dig a little deeper, it appears that no replacement teams will be activated once the tournament starts. There is reference to the “no contest” rule, which I interpret to mean that once the tournament begins, teams that no longer have opposition will advance. It’s still a bit unclear how the committee will deal with the replacement of high seeds that develop COVID issues, prior to the start of the tournament.

  6. Keets
    8:20 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    No, the Duke replacing James Madison scenario is wrong (assuming CAA gets one bid). If it’s a team from a one-bid conference, that conference picks another team from their conference as the replacement.

    But, yes, the Duke sliding in to replace an SEC team – at whatever seed – that crazy scenario is real.

    • VirginiaCat
      8:40 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

      Correct. One bid conferences can choose a replacement team, as long as the tournament has not been officially seeded.

  7. BlueKayak
    8:51 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    I agree with Drew more times than not but this article is from a loser’s point of view. The idea they are implementing seems fair. We should be good enough to leave no doubt.

  8. Irish son
    10:29 pm February 25, 2021 Permalink

    Go to bed, you’re drunk

  9. CahillsCrossingNT
    5:02 am February 26, 2021 Permalink

    This obsession and jealousy of Duke is getting old.

    • IndianaSucks
      9:02 am February 26, 2021 Permalink

      Somewhat agree…I mean what does duke have that we don’t other than the love and affection from the NCAA and ESPN? I’m not jealous of them that’s for sure.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      3:38 am February 27, 2021 Permalink

      Your obsession with UK is getting old as well…..and even worse you’re stupid enough to believe wanting Duke to be treated like any other NCAA team is jealousy.

  10. kjd
    6:03 am February 26, 2021 Permalink

    The “gold standard “ worried about what may happen with Duke. Lmao!

  11. DaveT999
    7:31 am February 26, 2021 Permalink

    What happens if a team is disqualified for COVID before a more substantial game? Say – Final 4? Does Duke jump the line magically and is suddenly one game away from the final? Or is this rule only for the first round of games?

    • Keets
      2:41 pm February 26, 2021 Permalink

      A team can only jump into a first round slot.

  12. sgd
    8:53 am February 26, 2021 Permalink

    Whine, whine, whine. Old Cal said we are the gold standard. We sucked this year. Duke has not been great, but has been better than us. We don’t deserve to be in. Yet we are obsessed with Duke. We have become Dukes little brother and it is all on Cal.

    • Keith Branstetter
      10:49 am February 26, 2021 Permalink

      I agree with SGD, We’re 8-13 and Duke is 11-8, If Cats were 11-8 you KNOW we would be getting in !