Rushed Reactions: #2 Duke 89, #15 Iona 67

Posted by Walker Carey on March 15th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) is in Pittsburgh this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

Marvin Bagley is Just Too Much (USA Today Images)

  1. Duke did what it had to do to advance. Make no mistake about it, few outside of the Iona locker room thought the Gaels had a legitimate shot of pulling the upset this afternoon. Iona is known for its up-tempo offensive attack, which caused it to run into problems with a more athletic and skilled Duke team that loves to play that way too. After a hard-fought opening stretch where the two teams consistently traded buckets, Duke exerted its will by putting its bigger talent advantage on display for the balance of the game. Mike Krzyzewski‘s team has much greater dreams than just advancing to the Second Round – and if they are able to make a run to the Final Four, no one will look back at this game as a turning point of any sorts. Duke just did what it had to and left with a drama-free victory. That is about as good as you can ask for in this tournament.
  2. Marvin Bagley III is a special talent. You have likely heard plenty about Marvin Bagley III’s exploits this season. The freshman ACC Player of the Year has been terrific from start to finish this season, and that continued this afternoon as Duke repeatedly forced the issue with the talented big man. Bagley terrorized the Iona front line for every second he played, finishing with 22 points (10-of-14 FG) and seven rebounds in 32 minutes of action. Duke is among the favorites to advance far into the bracket this year, and if the Blue Devils are fortunate enough to meet those expectations, the freshman big man’s dominating play will be a major reason why.
  3. Iona deserves praise for its run in the MAAC. Iona definitely did not have the horses to compete with Duke for 40 minutes today, which is understandable. Iona plays in the MAAC while Duke is a blue-blood program that plays in the ACC and consistently recruits at the highest level of the sport. While the Gaels did not create a lasting March moment this afternoon, it should certainly be appreciated what Tim Cluess is building at Iona. The Gaels have now made three straight NCAA Tournaments and should look good next season as well, with a large share of their talent expected to return next season.

Player of the Game. Trevon Duval, Duke. The knock on the freshman point guard all season has been poor shooting and inconsistent decision-making. That was not the case today, though, as Duval was terrific throughout his 31 minutes of action. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting (4-of-5 3FG) and dished out eight assists in the victory. It was a phenomenal performance by the freshman, and one on which he can definitely build on as the NCAA Tournament progresses.


  • “I am very happy with my team.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, prior to acknowledging how difficult it is to win in the NCAA Tournament.
  • “We all just focus at the task at hand – and that task is to play Duke basketball against our opponent.” – Duke guard Grayson Allen, giving credit to his teammates for focusing on Iona amid all the talk about Duke as a potential Final Four team.
  • “We tried to throw a lot of things at Duke. They were able to respond to all of them.” – Iona coach Tim Cluess, expressing how difficult it is to defend Duke’s dynamic offense.
  • “Definitely their inside guys. They have guys who are going to be high draft picks.” – Iona forward Roland Griffin, responding to a question regarding where Duke really impacted the game.

Sights and Sounds. It was definitely a much more subdued crowd for the second game of the Pittsburgh pod this afternoon. From the looks of things, neither the Blue Devils nor Gaels had much of a backing other than each team’s family section. On an unrelated note, it must be noted how jarring it was to see Krzyzewski actually participate in the CBS halftime interview, as he usually delegates that duty to associate head coach Jeff Capel. You have to wonder if that is a new mandate from the NCAA for the duration of the Tournament.

What’s Next. Duke advances to the Second Round where it will play a gutsy and experienced #7 Rhode Island on Saturday.

WCarey (318 Posts)

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