PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s March and the nation lights up by the sudden impact of college basketball aficionados that spill out of the woodwork with brackets in their hands. As the NCAA Tournament gets fully turning, the truth is, there may be no team in the country that can stop Duke, the overall No. 1 seed and top seed in the East region.
There is an estimated 70 million Americans expected to bet on the NCAA Tournament these next five weeks. According to the American Gaming Association, 29-percent of all Americans think Duke will win the national championship, which almost doubles the next closest team, Virginia, which is expected to garner 17-percent of the country’s gambling attention.
On the court, Duke possesses the best one-two punch in the country in freshmen Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, who combine to average 45 points.
The two teams that can beat Duke are two teams that have already defeated the Blue Devils, Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in the West, and ACC arch-rival North Carolina, the top seed in the Midwest.
Gonzaga possesses the best scoring offense in the nation, averaging national-high 88.8 points. North Carolina has dynamic freshman point guard Coby White, who averages 16.3 points, and is third in the nation in scoring, averaging 86.1 points. The problem with Gonzaga is how will the Bulldogs react in a tight game against an elite team like Duke?
Gonzaga literally rolled over opponents to the tune of the nation’s best winning margin, beating teams by an average of 23.8 points.
Duke, which plays in the much tougher ACC, beat its foes by average of 16.7 points.
• No. 12 Murray State over No. 5 Marquette
• No. 12 Liberty over No. 5 Mississippi State
• No. 11 St. Mary’s over No. 6 Villanova (sorry, Jay Wright)
Buffalo to reach the Sweet 16