There's been a lot of talk this season about how there's no "one dominant team" like North Carolina last season. And I agree with that. There are four dominant teams.
While it's hard to pick a favorite among the four Number 1 seeds in this year's Tournament, I think there's a clear gap between the top four and the rest of college basketball. That's why it's tough to not pick all four top seeds to make the Final Four... with the exception of one Number 1: Duke.
Don't get me wrong, Duke is a great team, clearly worthy of a Number 1 seed. And they have maybe the weakest region in Tournament history to play against. But there are two major red flags that have me dropping Duke out of my bracket before the Final Four.
First is there performance on the road. Record away from home is a good indicator for success in March, because there are no more home games.
Duke won all seven of their "neutral court" games. But three of those were in New York, where they play most years, and three more were in Greensboro, North Carolina for the ACC Tournament, against out of state teams (meaning they were pretty darn close to home games). Of those seven wins, only two (Gonzaga in New York and Georgia Tech in Greensboro) were against NCAA Tournament teams.
Now for the really bad news: Duke was just 5-5 in true road games this year, including 1-4 against NCAA Tournament teams (a win at Clemson, losses at Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, Georgetown, and Maryland). Like I said, there are no "home games" in the Tournament, but Duke might have to play 5th-seeded Texas A&M and/or 3rd-seeded Baylor in Houston, giving both those teams a home-state advantage. There will be a hostile crowd rooting against the Dukies. And that's why I think the Blue Devils will be watching the Final Four from home this year.