Like most everyone else back in November and December I thought Duke was on the short list of national title contenders, but then the injuries started mounting. Coach K missed games with his own health issues. Grayson Allen was becoming a distraction with his on court antics, and the team lacked chemistry. Heck as recently as a week ago Duke lost 3 of 4 games. For the better part of January and February I didn’t think Duke could reach the Final 4.
My mind was changed Friday. Duke wiped UNC out in the 2nd half, outscoring them 51-34 in the final 20 minutes. I know Joel Berry spent most of the 2nd half in foul trouble, but the Tar Heels can’t use that as an excuse. They were completely outplayed by Duke in a way I didn’t think was possible.
Does this mean Duke is going to the Final 4? No I’m not saying that, but what I am saying is they proved they are capable of getting to the Final 4. Jayson Tatum at times looks like one of the five best players in college basketball. Luke Kennard has been steady and consistent all year. We know about the combustible , but talented Grayson Allen. Duke is not especially deep but they have scoring threats all over the court.
I still wonder about their on the ball defense, as this isn’t a lightening quick team, but they won 2 out of 3 against UNC. They’ve beat Florida, Louisville, and Notre Dame. In total the Blue Devils have 11 top 50 wins.
Even if they win the ACC Tournament, Duke can’t reach the 1 seed line, but they are headed towards being a very dangerous #2 seed. Oh they have a coach that’s won 5 national titles, and been to 12 Final Fours too. I know I’m letting 1 great half of basketball sway 2 months of up and down play, but I know what I saw. Any team that can blitz UNC the way Duke did following a defeat of a very good Louisville team can reach the final 4.