We’re eight games into the Duke Blue Devils’ 2012-2013 season and Coach K and his team have already racked up quite a few impressive wins. The thing about the beginning of the season, however, is that what may be considered an impressive victory at the time could turn out be a not so impressive victory a few weeks later and what may be considered an insignificant victory may turn out to be a very impressive victory. You already know of all the flashy, impressive wins Duke has posted up to this point in the season, but how do they look now? Time to review:
74-55 victory over Georgia State (11/9)
At the time, the victory over an inexperienced Panthers squad looked like a typical, easy-going season opening win for Duke over a lesser-talented team. Today, that still holds true, as Georgia State has played their way to a 4-4 record and has been thoroughly unimpressive. Chances are this victory won’t have any impact at all come March.
75-68 victory over #3 Kentucky (11/13)
This victory is the one that inspired this post. At the time, the win looked as impressive as could be. Duke knocked off the defending National Champions, who had all the shiny new recruits and the big-name coach who never loses in John Calipari. Now? Kentucky isn’t even in the AP Top-25 Poll anymore following losses to Notre Dame and Baylor. Chances are, the freshman simply need time to gel with one another and will be back in the rankings in no time, but if the season were to end today and the tournament field were to be chosen tomorrow, that victory would look far less impressive than it did a week ago.
88-67 victory over Florida Gulf Coast (11/18)
This looked like a mildly impressive victory over an above-average mid-major program at the time, and it still looks like that today. Florida Gulf Coast certainly has the talent to make the field of sixty-four come March Madness, but this by no means will fluctuate into a key victory on Duke’s resume at any point this season.
89-71 victory over Minnesota (11/22)
I pointed out in my preview for this game that this was a very talented and underrated Minnesota team and that has held true so far this season. The Golden Gophers have risen to #14 in the rankings and I have a strong feeling they’re only going to keep climbing the polls. The Duke game was their lone loss and they have since picked up victories over a strong Memphis team, a talented Stanford team, and an underachieving, but still talented Florida State team. At the time, it only appeared, on paper, that Duke was picking up a typical opening round victory over a typical team, but with every Golden Gophers victory, that eighteen-point win looks better and better on their resume.
67-58 victory over Virginia Commonwealth (11/23)
Shaka Smart and the Virginia Commonwealth Rams are widely respected and are a guaranteed tough matchup, regardless of how much talent they lost or how inexperienced they are. I wouldn’t say it will be considered a Key Victory come tournament selection time, but it was definitely an impressive one to have, and it will remain that way throughout the season.
76-71 victory over #2 Louisville (11/24)
Geeze, how difficult was that Battle 4 Atlantis tournament? Louisville has bounced back from the loss with two victories over an above-average mid-major team and an awful mid-major team and, barring a collapse in conference play, the Blue Devils’ victory over the Cardinals is going to look every bit as impressive as did that night in the Bahamas.
73-68 victory over #3 Ohio State (11/28)
This was a week ago. Ohio State has only played one game since then: a slaughtering of an 0-5 Northern Kentucky team who’s nickname is the Norse. The Buckeyes are a very talented team that are going to be ranked in the top-ten when the season is over. I promise.
88-50 victory over Delaware (12/1)
A couple weeks from now, you aren’t even going to remember that time the Blue Devils beat the Fightin’ Blue Hens by thirty-eight points, so I doubt the voters remember it in three months when the tournament selection takes place.
Well, there you have it! Kentucky fell, but Minnesota rose. Duke’s resume is undoubtedly the best in the nation at the moment and the only reason Indiana is ranked ahead of them is because of the fact that the Hoosiers started in front of the Blue Devils. Not that the Hoosiers haven’t had their own impressive start to the season, because they have. Has Duke played the much tougher schedule, though? Absolutely.
If the season ended today, I firmly believe Duke would grab the number-one overall seed in the tournament. So, yes, their resume is every bit as impressive as you’d expect it to be.