First of all, I don’t believe this year’s Duke basketball team is overpoweringly good like, say, a Hurley/Laettner team. This is a young team that is exceptional but it lacks seasoned experience in Division I basketball.
There have also been some games Duke shouldn’t have lost—to Notre Dame, NC State, and Miami. The Blue Devils also barely defeated Florida State by three and Georgia Tech by six. Fortunately, Coach K realized that, though he eschews using a zone defense, he needed to use it with particular teams and Duke has benefited since.
When this Duke team needed to, it’s come up with some impressive wins. Perhaps the most impressive win was an away game against Virginia by seven points. This is a Virginia team that some feel is the best team in the country, besides Kentucky. The Cavaliers have defeated a fine Maryland squad, Notre Dame, UNC, and Louisville—all Top 25 programs.
The second most impressive win for the Blue Devils was a 10-point victory at Wisconsin. Virginia and Wisconsin have remained in the top five for virtually the entire season. Wisconsin is an excellent team that could possibly make the Final Four, but interestingly, Duke appears to be about the only top 25 team they have played. They’ve had some pretty good wins against Oklahoma, Georgetown, and Iowa twice, but they lack top wins.
Duke also overcame Michigan State. The Spartans have had their struggles; however, they’ve won against both Ohio State and Iowa. Tom Izzo often has his teams ready for the NCAA Tournament regardless of their season record. They are always a threat.
Duke defeated a UNC club that features wins over Ohio State and Louisville. Though somewhat erratic, I believe this UNC team could give most top teams a run for their money on a given night. As always, the Tar Heels are very talented.
Nationally, Duke is ranked fifth in points scored, 30th in rebounding, 27th in assists, and fifth in field goal percentage. That says a lot. If Duke plays well in the ACC Tournament and can ride a wave of excellent, mentally tough basketball into March Madness, it might make a deep run.
One scary factor is Jahlil Okafor’s body. He tweaked his knee in a recent game, then sprained an ankle against UNC. One is tempted to think these injuries are incidental because a usually cautious Coach K allowed him to continue play in both games.
He’s in a protective boot and questionable for the next couple games. Hopefully, he will stay healthy.
This FanTake was written and submitted by Steve Fortosis. FanTakes are a place for you the fan to voice your opinions. If you are interested in writing your own FanTake, just send us an email.