Taking on the number two team in the country and an undefeated team on the road, the Duke Blue Devils also looked like one of the best teams. They came up short against Syracuse, but they played one of their best games of the season.
This was another close game against another top contender. They don’t have a win against a top ten team yet this season, but have been able to compete with some of the better teams in the country. They started the season as the number four team in the country, but haven’t played like it until the Syracuse game.
They have beaten Michigan and Pittsburgh, two top-25 teams. They beat both of these teams pretty easily, and looked much better in both of these games. They have competed in each of the games against the three top teams on their schedule, and while they came up short in each, the Blue Devils have been slowly improving.
The first game was against Kansas early on in the season. They lost this game by 11 points; this is a team with National Championship aspirations. The second game was against Arizona and they only lost this game by six points. Both of these games were at neutral sites. The final game was against Syracuse on the road, and they only lost by two points in overtime. This is an improvement over the season, and they seem like they are getting better at the right time of the season.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski has been improving this team, and getting them to play their roles. He has been doing a great job of using his bench, and making sure everyone is well rested and playing well. This is one of his best jobs as a coach in recent seasons, and it could put this season like the 2010 team, a National Championship team. He is doing a great job with a team that didn’t know what their roles were, and had to bring their two best players into the fold without any experience playing for Duke.
This past week was a true indication of how far this team has come, with a dominant win at Pittsburgh and what could have been a great win at Syracuse. The game against Syracuse could have been different with Jabari Parker or Amile Jefferson. They both fouled out before overtime. This was a big blow to their chance of winning because Duke didn’t have anyone to protect the paint in overtime. They were trying to exchange threes for twos and came up just short at the end.
Going forward they have an easier schedule, with four of the last eight games are at home and the Syracuse rematch at home on February 22nd. They will have to win some of the bigger games on their schedule, and do really well in the ACC tournament, which is very possible for this team, if they are going to position them well for the NCAA tournament.