You might not like Duke basketball, but you better respect it.

With the ACC\Big 10 challenge starting Tuesday, it’s the official transition from football season to basketball for me. That said in the early part of the season there’s one team that’s already put together a resume that most number 1 seeds would be happy to have by season’s end, that’s the Duke Blue Devils.

Now I grew up hating Duke. I really couldn’t stand them. I didn’t like Coach K. My first basketball memories were of hating Danny Ferry and Johnny Dawkins. Don’t even speak to me about Christian Laettner…

Over the years I’ve grown to respect the Duke program, and this year I’m more impressed by what they’ve done than ever. All they have done this season is beat Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, and Louisville. Yes I know critics will say Kentucky and Louisville were missing a key player in their games, but really by any stretch those are still top 20 teams.

What I really like about this Duke team  is even though they are not exceptionally athletic, they are more athletic than they’ve been in years, and I think they are going to get better. This team can be better than the 2010 National Title team. There’s a nice blend of upperclassmen (Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly) and young talent (Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson).

Coach Mike Krzyewski like he did team USA basketball this summer is doing it again. Doing what he’s done his whole career, bringing together talented players and quickly coalescing them into the best team in the world (Team USA) or as he’s done so far this year maybe the best college basketball team in the country.

If Duke knocks off #3 Ohio State Wednesday night, can anyone really argue that they aren’t on the short list of national title contenders, if they already aren’t? You don’t have to like Duke basketball, but again in 2012 you better respect it.

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