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Duke Basketball: Blue Devils at No. 6 in Early ESPN Rankings

Grayson Allen Duke Guard
Photo: Troy Taormina-USA Today Sports

While most Duke basketball fans are still basking in the glory of the program’s latest national championship, the rest of the college basketball world has already shifted its attention toward the 2015-16 season.

Now that players have departed for the NBA and incoming recruiting classes are set, we can start to get an idea of which teams have the best chance to likely contend for a championship or make a deep tournament run.

ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan put together his “No-Longer-Way-Too-Early Top 25” and has the defending national champions at the No. 6 spot in his rankings. The Blue Devils are one of four ACC teams to make his Top 25, along with North Carolina at No. 2, Virginia at No. 4, and Notre Dame at No. 16. Former ACC member Maryland takes Brennan’s top spot in the rankings.

Here’s his top 5:

1. Maryland
2. North Carolina
3. Kentucky
4. Virginia
5. Kansas

In his analysis of Duke, Brennan projects that Grayson Allen will establish himself as a consistent contributor for the program this year and that the incoming freshman class should fill many of the holes left by the departure of four starters (Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, and Quinn Cook) from last season’s team.

It’s interesting that he also thinks that former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon will serve as a key piece in Maryland’s backcourt this season.

What do you think of this evaluation of Duke? Is No. 6 the appropriate preseason ranking for the Blue Devils? In early August, do we even care or are we still just replaying videos of the final 10 minutes of the championship game?

Check out Brennan’s complete Top 25 on ESPN.com.


  1. Maryland #1? Has this guy ever watched Sulaimon play at Duke his sophomore or junior seasons? IMO there was no way Duke would have won the NCAA last year if he was a mainstay in the rotation. For very big shot he made he would make a handful of bonehead miscues  – either dribbling the ball off of his foot, make a unwise pass, or out of control on a drive to the basket. I hate to say it but dismissing him elevated the team. I wanted to see Sulaimon become a really good player, but he habitually made mistakes late in games. Everyone thought Duke was done for when he left the program, but no made mention of it as the team got better & better without him.

  2. I agree that Sulaimon was sometimes out of control. That though had to do with him pressing more. He was a good talent but also upset over playing time dropping. You put any kid in his position and you probably get similar results. Maryland is now a contender with him. Go back to regular season game with Wisconsin and watch how he was. He scored 14 or 16. Time will tell but I would have taken him as well on my team. If he plays 30 min a game, he will average 14 points.

  3. Early rankings are so subjective.

  4. I like that we are outside of the top 5 in this poll.  A lot will depend on how quickly things gel with the newcomers but I would caution any Duke fan who thinks it will be as smooth as last year.  I expect more hiccups especially in the early going but I do like the potential of this team (on paper at least).  Last years team had a confidence that you rarely see out of a young squad and that I believe was the quality that allowed them to cut down the nets aside from there otherworldly talent.  Will this team have that same level of confidence and grit?  That remains to be seen.  UNC is really getting a lot of love and I get it but as the article suggests, people are just “assuming” that their role players are going to take a major step forward which there is no guarantee of.  I definitely think they deserve top pre-season honors for the ACC but I feel as if we have just as high a ceiling as they do and I definitely think we have more NBA, pro-level talent.  UVA will be in the mix too so it should be a very interesting year.