Duke’s Jeremy Roach Is Ready for His Sweet 16 Moment vs. Houston

It's win or go home permanently for the 22-year-old senior captain

Jeremy Roach of the Blue Devils
Jeremy Roach and the Blue Devils balled out against James Madison on Sunday.
Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty

On Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, senior guard Jeremy Roach and the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils will attempt to upset the top-seeded Houston Cougars and advance to the Elite Eight. A three-year letterwinner for the Blue Devils who was voted team captain for the 2023-24 season after also serving in that capacity as a junior, Roach has a playful NIL campaign with Raid based around his last name. Though he has respect for Houston, Roach is hoping it is the Cougars who have their tournament run exterminated on Friday.

“It’s gonna be a big-time fight. Houston’s the No. 1 team in the country for a reason, so we definitely pay them their respect,” Roach tells InsideHook. “But don’t pay them too much respect and just lay down. We’re gonna want to throw the first punch and be the aggressors.”

Roach knows what it takes to keep dancing past the third round of the tournament as Duke was able to do just that two years ago when the Blue Devils advanced to the Final Four with wins over Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 and Arkansas in the Elite 8 during coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski’s final year on the sidelines.

“When we went to the Sweet 16 my sophomore year, we were underdogs, too. People had Texas Tech beating us,” Roach says. “It really doesn’t matter. You just have to go out there and really play and compete. Don’t worry about any of the outside noise. ‘Duke’s not gonna win. Duke can’t do this. You can’t do this.’ Control what you can control. The rest will take care of itself.”

Seth Davis Shares His March Madness Wellness Routine
The broadcaster talks long flights, quick lifts and the power of meditation

To make sure Roach’s senior year follows the path to the Final Four the way his sophomore season did, he’s imparting his wisdom to his younger teammates. “I’ve been harping to the younger guys not to lose focus,” he says. “You can be happy and giddy that you got out of the first round, but it gets harder and harder as each round goes on. We had a great week of practice last week and that led to us being able to get past the first weekend. We have to keep the same recipe. The main thing is worrying about Friday. Who we could play Sunday or next week doesn’t really matter if don’t win on Friday. It’s a one-game-at-a-time mentality.”

It’s also a win-or-go-home game, but Roach, who withdrew from the 2023 NBA Draft to return to Duke for his senior season, and has already played the final home game of his collegiate career, insists that doesn’t add any extra pressure. “I mean, this is what Duke’s for. We live for these moments and have been in this situation too many times to feel more pressure,” he says. “We just have to go out there and be us. Don’t need to do anything special. Don’t need to show up for the crowd, for the camera or for anybody. Obviously the stakes are higher, but it’s like a regular game at the same time. My mom always tells me that big-time players play great in big-time games. That’s always been my motto going into these type of environments.”

As for Friday night being Roach’s final game for the Blue Devils if they come up short against Houston, he’s not even thinking about it. “It doesn’t go through my head. I’m just focusing on winning each game,” he says. “If I just stay present and do what I do to lead these young guys in the right direction, everything will take care of itself. These type of moments are what you’re going to remember forever.”

“It’s fun staying present in the moment and really enjoying it, because not many people get an opportunity to play in the Sweet 16,” he adds. “You have to enjoy every moment. If I’m present in the moment, I think we have a great chance of winning.”

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!