Five things to know about the Mercer-Duke matchup:
A-SUN RIVALRY: Many fans remember FGCU pulling off those two upsets as a No. 15 seed and reaching the round of 16 last year. That run wouldn’t have happened had the seeds held up in the Atlantic Sun tournament - and had No. 1 seed Mercer beaten FGCU in the title game on the Bears’ home court. Forward Jakob Gollon said he had mixed feelings because he was happy for the A-Sun but, “We know that had we been the team that got the bid, we probably could have done something similar.”
EXPERIENCE COUNTS: Mercer is the only team in the country to start five seniors in every game, and with seven of them on the roster, ranks as the fourth-most experienced team in the country, according to statsheet.com. Thomas said that works in the Bears’ favor because, “We get to develop our friendship, both on and off the court, as teammates and roommates and everything, really.” He added “that helps us a lot and I think it’s shown in the past, these past couple of years especially, with so many mid majors coming in.”
HOME SWEET HOME: Duke had the shortest trip of any of its four Triangle rivals in the tournament. The Blue Devils won’t have to worry about fans from rival North Carolina booing them, either, because ACC champion Virginia is the other anchor team in the subregional. Duke is 2-0 in tournament games at PNC Arena and 32-5 in NCAA tournament games played in the state of North Carolina, but lost its last one - a 75-70 loss to 15th-seeded Lehigh two years ago in Greensboro.
NO HARD FEELINGS: Hoffman said he holds no grudges against Duke assistant Jeff Capel, who essentially fired him in 2006. Hoffman was Oklahoma’s interim coach after Kelvin Sampson’s departure and when Capel was hired as his permanent replacement, Hoffman was not retained and wound up coaching in the ABA before landing at Mercer in 2008. Hoffman said he understands the position Capel was in because “just as if I would have had the job, he got his own dudes.”
COACH K’S STATS: Krzyzewski is making his 19th straight NCAA tournament appearance and he’s the winningest coach in the history of the event, with an 82-25 record in it. No Division I team has a better tournament record than Duke, which is 99-33 in it.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap