Posted March 10, 2013

Duke’s Going To Be Just Fine (And Other Thoughts)

ACC
Seth Curry contributed 20 points to help Duke demolish North Carolina. (Getty Images)

Seth Curry contributed 20 points to help Duke demolish North Carolina. (Getty Images)

Nine days after getting handled in Charlottesville to the point it prompted me to write this column, Duke has offered a pointed rebuttal of those (and any other) concerns.

The Blue Devils ripped arch rival North Carolina at the Dean Dome on Saturday night, 69-53, capping a weeklong run where they have shown that Ryan Kelly is just fine, that Seth Curry doesn’t need practice, and that everyone more than likely will be looking up at them on the NCAA’s seed list next Sunday. Not only will the Blue Devils be a No. 1 seed, but they have a very good chance at this point to be the overall No. 1 seed, which would lock them into a cozy Philadelphia/Washington D.C. path.

Duke still has not lost with Ryan Kelly in the lineup, and given how volatile everything else has been this season, that’s an extremely strong selling point. Kelly’s ability to stretch the floor and create space for Mason Plumlee is a huge piece of Duke’s offensive effectiveness and Kelly has been much better than advertised as a defender this season. But he’s not the whole story. Curry is capable of big nights (like tonight). Mason Plumlee also came strong in Chapel Hill, another good sign. Duke’s depth improved while Kelly was out, too.

No one’s unbeatable this season and Duke’s recent NCAA tournament history is dicey enough that its fans shouldn’t be booking tickets to Atlanta just yet, but no one’s managed to take them out so far when they’re whole.

Elsewhere in the championship week picture…

  • Valparaiso’s Ryan Broekhoff did this to Wisconsin-Green Bay to put the Crusaders into the Horizon final…… after Wright State had done this to defending tournament champion Detroit in the other semifinal:(h/t @CBTonNBC and @ESPN)
  • Belmont rallied from a late seven-point deficit to force overtime and then beat Murray State on a shot with 0.7 seconds left to win the Ohio Valley tournament and become the third team to qualify for the NCAA tournament (after Florida Gulf Coast, making its first-ever trip to the dance and Harvard, which again clinched off the court).
  • Loyola Marymount’s unexpected run in the WCC tournament ended in the semifinals at the hands of Gonzaga, which stretched a one-point halftime lead out into an eventual 66-48 win.
  • Losses by Kansas (at Baylor) and New Mexico (at Air Force) give Gonzaga an even greater possibility of nailing down a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs if they win Monday night’s WCC final.
  • The other team people need to be watching out for is Louisville, which grabbed a share of the Big East regular-season title today and is very much back in the discussion for a 1-seed depending on how the major-conference tournaments go.
  • Liberty (14-20) will be playing for the Big South auto-bid against Charleston Southern after upsetting Gardner-Webb in the semis.
5 comments
Rusty1
Rusty1

Gonzaga deserves the overall #1 seed.  Except for the east coast bias.

AlphonseGerardCappetta
AlphonseGerardCappetta

I really think Duke is getting too much credit. Georgetown, Gonzaga, and Michigan has a better resume. The ACC is down this year, and yet they are getting the respect. Think about this one, the ACC will have as many teams in the Dance as the SEC and PAC-12. Both conferences, by many respectful writers, are considered to having down years. Yet the ACC gets off because of their legacy. You tell me a team that has to deal with more weekly battles then a team in the Big-10 or Big East, and then I will soften my mind on Duke. They are a good team, but not number 1 overall. Otto Porter is a big reason why the Hoyas deserve the number one seed, and the guard play of Michigan is another. This is not even including the dynamic front court of the Bulldogs from Gonzaga. Mark Few should be coach of the year and the Dogs deserve more respect. They have one big loss, at Butler, that is nothing horrible. Hey, Indiana lost at home to Butler. Duke is overrated, and I bet they will not even reach the second weekend of the Dance.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Rusty1 Good to see that some of you conspiracy theorists are still hanging in there.  Keep up the good work!  Someday you will get to the bottom of this and uncover the holy grail of evidence that will prove your bias theory true once and for all.  Godspeed.

JulesG
JulesG

@AlphonseGerardCappetta Duke is overrated because the ACC is down this year? Are you serious? They started the reason beating 3 Top 5 ranked teams. They have a team in Miami that was flirting with being ranked number one in the Nation, the top scorer in the Nation in their conference. They only lost conference games when one of their starters went down for half of the season. Come on man. Then you through Gonzaga in there? Who do they face on a nightly basis that is even close to a Miami or UNC or NC State? You sound really bitter. To say that the conferences alone should determine the overall seeding, not the record, not the BPI, and in the same breath mention Gonzaga....ok...