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Beats’ picks: Can Duke men’s basketball get past Tennessee in the round of 32?

With 10 straight wins and a first-round win over Oral Roberts on the books, No. 5-seeded Duke meets No. 4-seeded Tennessee with a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 on Saturday afternoon in Orlando, Fla the line. As the tip nears, the beat writers at The Chronicle make their picks.

Jonathan Levitan: Duke 64-53

With the Blue Devils destroying Oral Roberts and Tennessee’s narrow win over Louisiana, it should be clear that Duke is the team to beat here, regardless of seeding.

However, I’m excited to see how the Volunteers – who play with a hole the size of Zakai Zeigler in backcourt – build up offense against Dukes Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor. Guard play is so often the catalyst to March Madness’ success, and the Blue Devils’ junior rookie duo have shown thunder and lightning on offense and defense, respectively, in recent games. There are other reasons to be confident in Duke, but that’s what I’ll hang my hat on as the Blue Devils settle down in Orlando.

Micha Hurewitz: Duke 60-55

The Blue Devils put on one of their best defensive performances Thursday night, and Tennessee is known for its defense — but Duke’s offense looks like it could take it up a few notches, especially after Tennessee’s narrow win over Louisiana. It won’t be a high-scoring game, but Roach’s last run and a more committed Kyle Filipowski could put Duke ahead of the Volunteers with a chance to face either Florida Atlantic or Fairleigh Dickinson in New York next week.

Jake Piazza: Duke 76-68

Duke has had his 10th straight win, the latest being a statement. The Blue Devils choked Oral Roberts off the field and distributed the ball well on offense, which they will do again against Tennessee. The Volunteers turned the ball over 18 times and with Duke’s defense right now, opponents can’t afford that. The Blue Devils will again force a lot of turnover and punch their ticket for the second weekend.

Max Rego: Duke 69-59

A team plays their best basketball of the season. The other one is, well, not. Roach is in March form, Dereck Lively II has developed into a solid defensive backbone and head coach Jon Scheyer is handling his first NCAA tournament as head coach like a seasoned pro. Tennessee will no doubt fight, looking for Santiago Vescovi and Josiah Jordan-James to keep the volunteers in for 30 minutes. But Duke is rolling, and that run is continuing to New York.

Alex Jackson: Duke 72-66

Duke and Tennessee both showed their defensive skills in their first-round wins. However, no offense was spectacular. Most will see this game as a defensive battle, but I see the Blue Devils breaking that narrative with their transition play. Duke is starting to build the ability to turn defense into fast offense, and I think Tennessee is falling into the turnover trap. As Lively patrols the color, the volunteers will face a level of internal pressure they are not used to. It’s going to be a close game, but I need to give Duke an advantage with his offensive weapons. Assuming Filipowski returns to his normal self, Tennessee won’t be able to stop the Blue Devils’ ability to attack from all areas on the floor. The Volunteers only win if Duke beats himself.

Rachael Kaplan: Duke 61-56

The first rounds of Duke and Tennessee looked very different. While the Blue Devils edged Oral Robert 74-51 after taking a 15-0 lead, the Volunteers fought tooth and nail for their 58-55 win over No. 13 Louisiana. The narrow win, however, says less about the Ragin’ Cajuns’ efforts and more about Tennessee’s lackluster offense. The volunteers shot just 25% of three and flipped the ball 18 times. This game will be similar to Duke’s two defensive grinds against Virginia. The big question is, the Blue Devils – can they keep up their offense against the Volunteers’ third-place goal defense? With Roach in fine postseason form, Dariq Whitehead off the bench as a producer, and Filipowski’s nerves out of his system, Duke moves forward.

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max reg

Max Rego is a Trinity Senior and Associate Sports Editor for Volume 118 of The Chronicle. He was previously the sports editor for Volume 117.

Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity Senior and was Sports Editor of Volume 117 of The Chronicle.

Michael Hurewitz
| Sports Executive Editor

Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity junior and Sports Editor of Volume 118 of The Chronicle.

Jonathan Levitan
| sports editor

Jonathan Levitan is Trinity Junior and Sports Editor of Volume 118 of The Chronicle.

Rachel Kaplan
| Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a sophomore at Trinity and Blue Zone Associate Editor of Volume 118 of The Chronicle.