Duke Basketball moved up one spot in the national polls to No. 7 ahead of a tough week that can define the rest of their season without Coach K.
The Duke Men’s Basketball team overcame an embarrassing conference opening loss at Virginia Tech to rout Georgia Tech and a tough win over Boston College last week. The Blue Devils moved up one spot in the latest rankings from the AP and USA Today Coaches poll from #8 to #7. However, the upcoming games this week will provide huge implications for March and can determine how good this team really is.
This week brings several tough games for the Blue Devils that will not only affect their ranking but possibly their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Duke will face two Top 25 conference opponents on the road at No. 9/10 Florida State Tuesday and then at No. 14/15 Louisville Saturday. To make things worse, the Blue Devils will be without Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski for both games and are examining redshirt senior Amile Jefferson after leaving the BC game early with a foot injury.
The ACC is regarded as the top conference in college basketball, with six teams ranked in the Top 25 and ten projected to make the NCAA Tournament. The latest Bracketology update has the Blue Devils projected to be a 2-seed in the same region as Kansas, who beat Duke earlier this year. That game was the team’s first loss of the season without several key players such as Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Marques Bolden. Some fans may argue that seeding shouldn’t really matter, but two losses this week could drop Duke to a lower seed in the ACC and NCAA tournaments in place of the Seminoles and Cardinals in the postseason.
Throughout the regular season, Mike Krzyzewski has noted how this team is behind other teams this season because of injuries and inconsistent lineups. Duke seems to have settled on a starting lineup of Grayson Allen at PG with Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Amile Jefferson, and even then we are unsure of Jefferson’s status going forward. Additionally, Duke has still yet to win a true road game this season, losing in Blacksburg to Virginia Tech. The road games at FSU and Louisville will see how well the team has come together in a short amount of time without one of the greatest coaches ever.
Interim head coach Jeff Capel will have his hands full as he leads Duke against two talented ACC teams in two very tough environments. Stay tuned to Ball Durham for all of your Duke Basketball updates and analysis this regular season and Go Duke!