Can Mercer beat Duke? Experts say yes

Mercer's Bears are matched up against one of college basketball's glamour programs, the Duke Blue Devils, in Friday's NCAA tournament matchup.

Every year, Duke plays a role in March Madness; the Bears haven't made the Big Dance since 1985. Duke is seeded 3rd in the Midwest Regional, Mercer is ranked 14th out of 16 teams.

But some experts around the country say Mercer has a chance to pull off an upset.

Here's what national media are saying about Friday's matchup:

USA TODAY: Potential upset: Duke should be wary of the Mercer Bears. Much like Florida Gulf Coast last season, Mercer comes out of the Atlantic Sun as a dangerous double-digit seed, with eight wins in its last 10 games. Laden with seniors, the Bears are efficient offensively, make 39% of their three-pointers and get balanced scoring from six different players led by guard Langston Hall (14.7 ppg). The Bears also have more size than a traditional mid-major, with an array of 6-4 guards and 6-10 center Daniel Coursey, who averages nearly 10 points and seven rebounds. Mercer beat Seton Hall and Ole Miss in the regular season and only lost to Texas by three points, proving they can hang with power conference talent. Mercer has a ton of senior leadership and a balanced approach that can be a real problem if shots are falling early. The Blue Devils are susceptible to off nights from the outside because of their lack of interior scoring, so an upset would not be super surprising.

BLEACHER REPORT: Games that could be bracket-busters: The Bears bring a highly potent and efficient offense to the court. According to, the Bears average 79.5 points per game, while shooting 47.5% from the field and averaging 38 rebounds per game. Mercer has the type of offense and rebounding that can give Duke trouble.

NEWARK STAR LEDGER: Mercer is a trendy upset pick over Duke. Avoid it. The Blue Devils have the third-lowest turnover percentage (14.4) of teams in the tournament.

SPORTS ON EARTH: Probably a popular upset pick, but only because everyone hates Duke. Mercer does have a solid win over Ole Miss on its resume and is one of the best outside shooting teams in the country, but if you're a fan of entertaining basketball, you should actually be rooting for more Duke....The Blue Devils own one of the nation's most efficient and entertaining offenses.

NY DAILY NEWS: Upset Special : Mercer (14) over Duke (3), Friday at Raleigh. Blue Devils' defense will be severely tested by Bears point guard Langston Hall. (Quoting an opposing coach): "I think it's a bad draw for Mercer. Duke isn't going to take these guys lightly. Duke is going to be fundamentally sound in what they do, just like Mercer....I think Langston Hall can hold his own and not force anything; he's going to give them a chance to work the offense. Mercer isn't going to be surprised; they'll be confident. They believe they can win, and they and the league have proven we can beat high-major teams. They're not going to be scared."

Media reports in Nevada, where gambling on college sports is legal, put Duke as a 13.5-point favorite.

You can see the game Friday at 12:15 p.m. on 13WMAZ.


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