Report: Duke Blue Devils Poised to Miss NCAA Tournament for First Time Since 1994-95 Season

Duke was forced out of the ACC Tournament due to a positive COVID-19 test, likely ending their March Madness bid

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils with his hands on his hips
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Jared C. Tilton/Getty

For just the fourth time since Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski took over the program prior to the 1980–81 season, the Blue Devils are going to miss the NCAA tournament.

First reported by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, Duke is preparing for their season to be over after a player within the program, reportedly a walk-on, tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the Blue Devils have been forced to bow out of their matchup with Florida State in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, after going an entire season with no positive COVID-19 tests among our men’s basketball student-athletes and coaching staff, one member of our program tested positive following Wednesday’s ACC Tournament game in Greensboro,” said Duke Director of Athletics Kevin White. “After working with our medical professionals and following Duke and ACC Medical Advisory Group health, safety, and contact tracing protocols, the student-athletes on our team are now in quarantine. Since last March when the pandemic started, we have listened to our medical experts and always put safety at the forefront of any determinations regarding competition. As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season. We wish every team still playing college basketball good health and the very best during the next few weeks.”

Had Duke been able to win against the Seminoles and eventually win the ACC tourney, they would have automatically qualified for the NCAA tournament. But with a record of just 13-11 in the season, it seems highly unlikely that the Blue Devils will receive an at-large NCAA tourney bid. If they do miss out, it will be the first time Duke hasn’t gone dancing since the 1994-95 season.

“While our season was different than any other that I can remember, I loved the 2020-21 Duke Basketball team and was honored to be their coach,” Krzyzewski said. “We have not asked more of any team in our history, and they deserve enormous credit for handling everything like the outstanding young men they are. I feel deeply for our players, who have done a terrific job all season in taking care of each other and the team.  I am extremely proud of their collective attitudes and effort, which could not have been stronger. We are disappointed we cannot keep fighting together as a group after two outstanding days in Greensboro. This season was a challenge for every team across the country and as we have seen over and over, this global pandemic is very cruel and is not yet over.  As many safeguards as we implemented, no one is immune to this terrible virus.”

The Blue Devils had won their first two games in the ACC tourney after finishing 10th in the conference with a 9-9 record.

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