Committee chairman: Williamson key to Duke’s tourney seed

The chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee said Sunday that Duke’s seed in the NCAA Tournament will hinge on the play of star freshman Zion Williamson in this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

“We will have to evaluate, once he plays in the (ACC) tournament, is he 100 percent? It’s very hard for a student-athlete, once coming off an injury, to be right back at 100 percent, and how does Duke play when he’s back in the lineup?” committee chairman Bernard Muir, the athletic director at Stanford, said Sunday on CBS.

Four weeks ago, the committee revealed its top 16 teams, and the four top seeds if the season ended that day were Duke, Tennessee, Virginia and Gonzaga.

No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Virginia look to be top seeds, but the past month hasn’t been kind to Duke or Tennessee.

Since Feb. 9, the day of the committee’s unveiling, both the Blue Devils and Volunteers have posted 5-3 records.

Tennessee (27-4) lost to Kentucky, LSU and unranked Auburn.

Duke’s three losses have come since Feb. 20, when Williamson suffered a knee injury 33 seconds into the game against North Carolina when his shoe malfunctioned. They lost that game to the Tar Heels, the rematch Saturday night and a Feb. 26 game against Virginia Tech.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Saturday night that he expects Williamson to play Thursday when Duke debuts in the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, N.C.

“I think we’ll get Zion back for Thursday,” Krzyzewski said. “… Hopefully we can get a couple good days in practice where he can play 5-on-5 and then see how that goes. But the way he looks right now, I think it’s just a matter of getting in shape.”

The Blue Devils (26-5) have lost just one game this season — to Gonzaga on Nov. 21 — at full strength.

–Field Level Media

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