After being a trendy Final Four pick out of the East Region, the Duke Blue Devils have been ousted from the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Coming into Saturday, there wasn’t a hotter team in the country than the Blue Devils, winners of 10 straight, including an ACC Championship victory and a 23-point win over 13-seed Oral Roberts in the Round of 64.
The same cannot be said for the Tennessee Volunteers, losers of seven of their last 12 games entering the Big Dance and without the services of starting guard Zakai Zeigler following his ACL tear.
But this is March, where anything is possible.
Behind a career game from Olivier Nkamhoua, Tennessee cruised to a 65-52 win over Duke, sending the Blue Devils home for the season.
Nkamhoua, who came into today averaging 10.5 points, erupted for 27 points, while Santiago Vescovi chipped in 14 points and five assists. The Vols defense held Duke to just 21 first-half points while forcing 15 turnovers for the game.
Tennessee becomes the first team from the East Region to punch a ticket in the Sweet 16. They’ll now await the winner of Sunday’s Cinderella showdown between 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson and 9-seed Florida Atlantic.
It is a VIBE in the Tennessee locker room right now as the Vols are headed to the Sweet 16! #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/0DJAnGNBdF— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 18, 2023
Safe to say Tennessee is in great shape to make just its second Elite Eight ever and first Final Four in program history.