Well, we have another upset this year in the NCAA Tournament. The Duke Blue Devils, led by Jabari Parker, have fallen to the 14 seeded, Mercer Bears.
The Mercer Bears are led by 5 starters - Who are all seniors. As we all know, experience and team chemistry can always overpower talent. And today, this theory was proven again.
The Duke Blue Devils have a ton of talent, but their team is very inexperienced. Of course, Jabari Parker, the freshmen phenom, is averaging 19 PPG and 9 TRB. Rodney Hood is averaging 16 PPG, but again, only a sophomore. Today against Mercer, their talent fell short as they shot a combined 6 for 24 for only 20 points.
Their only seniors (4 total seniors) are not big names, and do not play often in games. Today, against Duke, they only had 1 senior starter, compared to Mercer's 5 senior starters. The Duke's seniors also did not play well today against Mercer. Duke's total seniors shot 1-6 today, for only 6 points.
Mercer's seniors shot 20-37 from the field, for a total of 61 points! They have been playing together for 4 years, compared to Duke's 1 year, and this was very evident in today's game. Mercer shot the ball 55% from the field and were able to work off of each other's strengths. Duke was not getting any open shots (35% from field), and more than half of their points came off of contested three pointers (15) and offensive rebounds (Duke had 16 offensive rebounds, compared to Mercer's 3).
Mercer was also able to finish off the game with experience. Mercer only had a total of 8 turnovers today, compared to Duke's 12, and Mercer was able to control foul trouble. No one on Mercer fouled out, and only one player was in foul trouble. Duke had their top two leading scorers in foul trouble, and one of them fouled out in the end (Rodney Hood).
And in the end, Mercer knew how to get open shots late in the game. Like in any basketball game, when the game reaches the last 3 minutes, open shots are difficult to come by. However, for Mercer, they had been playing for 4 years, and got open look after open look. Duke tried to play one on one the final 3 minutes, and worked sometimes (Rasheed Sulaimon and one lay up), but Mercer's wide open looks were much more efficient than Duke's contested three's.
In the end, Mercer is walking away with the 78-71 win against the Duke Blue Devils and the freshmen phenom, Jabari Parker, to face the winner of Tennessee and UMass.