RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Mike Krzyzewski has won more NCAA tournament games than anyone in the history of men’s basketball. Even he and his Duke Blue Devils aren’t immune to being knocked out early.
For the second time in three seasons and fifth time ever, Krzyzewski’s team lost in the opening game. This time it was 14th-seeded Mercer taking out his third-seeded Blue Devils 78-71 Friday. They lost to 15th-seeded Lehigh in 2012.
Both those first-round upsets came in North Carolina. The Lehigh loss came in Greensboro while the Mercer defeat came in Raleigh, not far from Duke’s campus.
Neither Lehigh nor Mercer had the star power of the Blue Devils yet both were led by upperclassmen. Mercer started five seniors while Duke’s best players were freshman Jabari Parker and sophomore Rodney Hood.
Before the loss to Lehigh, Duke hadn’t been knocked out in the first round since 2007. The sixth-seeded Blue Devils lost to VCU that year. That was the last time that Duke, which has won four national championships and reached the Final Four 11 times under Krzyzewski, wasn’t one of the highly seeded teams.
Mercer has 1,176 wins as a program — or, only 191 more than Krzyzewski has all by himself. With their first NCAA win the Bears are now only 81 behind Krzyzewski’s record NCAA total.
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