SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Without a No. 1 seed for the first time in six years, Duke makes its 27th NCAA Tournament appearance when it faces No. 14 Colorado State on Thursday in a West Region first-round contest.
With six losses, the Blue Devils (24-6) received a No. 3 seed, their lowest since they were a No. 8 in 1996. Duke is in the West Region for only the second time in school history and the first since 1984, when the Blue Devils suffered an 80-78 loss to Washington.
The Blue Devils captured an unprecedented fifth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title on Sunday, rallying from a 15-point deficit in the second half to defeat North Carolina State, 84-77.
The Blue Devils are making their eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 19th in 20 years under coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose winning percentage of .795 (58-15) is the second highest among active coaches with a minimum of 20 games, behind Michigan State's Tom Izzo (.800, 16-4).
Duke's strength all season was its balanced scoring, led by senior foward Dahntay Jones, a first-team all-ACC selection who averaged 17.0 points per game. Freshman guard J.J. Redick (14.9) and sophomore guard Daniel Ewing (12.2), also score in double figures for the young Blue Devils, who are averaging 82.0 points per game, sixth in the nation.
Colorado State (19-13) earned its seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament following a dramatic run in the Mountain West Conference. The Rams won three MWC tournament games by a combined 10 points, including a 62-61 victory over host Nevada-Las Vegas in the final.
Brian Greene hit the game-winning jumper with four seconds remaining as Colorado State overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and the loss of leading scorer Matt Nelson, who suffered a left cornea laceration with 13 minutes remaining.
Colorado State survived a seven-game losing streak in February to earn its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1990, when it lost to Alabama, 71-54, in the first round of the West Region.
The Rams could cause problems up front with Nelson (16.9), a bonafide 7-footer, and the 6-8 Greene (13.9), the team's best player whose productivity dropped this season.
However, Colorado State is not a strong ballhandling team, averaging nearly 17 turnovers per game, and likely will have to handle Duke's pressure to stay close.
Duke is facing an opponent from the Mountain West for the first time. Should the Blue Devils advance, they might face what could be a difficult second-round assignment against Creighton.
Duke arguably is in the toughest region as the West includes top-seed Arizona, Kansas and Illinois. A matchup against the Jayhawks looms in the regional semifinals.