With No. 1 Indiana’s loss to unranked Butler, it is all but certain that Duke will become the nation’s new top ranked team, but does that really mean anything?
In a word–no.
There has been a lot of debate over the early course of the year following the Blue Devils impressive start that features three wins over top 5 teams, that Duke has the resume to be the number one team. With Indiana holding on to that top spot the only thing that I felt would propel the Blue Devils into the top slot would be a Hoosiers loss and now that Butler has pulled that off all those who wanted Duke in the top spot should now be happy.
But lets be realistic, it is December and being No. 1 in December is well…meh, especially if you are Duke. They’ve been there done that. I think I heard yesterday that Mike Krzyzewski has had one of his teams ranked No. 1 in 16 different years so this isn’t his first time having a team ranked No. 1.
In in those years he has won 4 National Championships. I’m sure he or any Duke fan would rather change those numbers around. Being No. 1 is nice and all but means next to nothing in December and less than nothing when you don’t win a championship.
Krzyzewski talked about how his team has had to fight to get to where they are this year and that by winning you can become complacent and soft. Duke is a good team, but not nearly good enough to be complacent or soft. Now that they are No. 1 they are going to have to play with an edge because they are now the hunted.
Duke under Krzyzewski has typically handled being the top team in the country very well, but it is a challenge and he knows as well as anyone that it isn’t all that important for a team to be No. 1 right now.
The Blue Devils though deserve the top billing, and they are a team that is certainly capable of getting better. They are still waiting for Marshall Plumlee to see his first action and the season. His play isn’t going to do anything pivitol for the Blue Devils but he will give them some depth in the post and a guy that can spot his older brother Mason and potentially help on the glass.
Duke is also going to have to continue to improve on the defensive end and stay consistent on offense. They could certainly use more from their bench, especially against better competition. There is some hope that Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson can provide a bit of that boost but they have to do it consistently when they are given the opportunities and continue to work hard in practice.
This is a team that is certainly worked to become the No. 1 team and they are essentially being handed the chance to continue to prove to those who have felt it all along they deserve the top spot. I’m inclined to believe there will be some bumps along the way but if they continue to improve, Duke can prove that they are a team that can be No. 1 when it counts.