Duke basketball: Why the Blue Devils cannot afford to look ahead

Duke basketball (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Too many threats remain on the schedule for the Duke basketball team to think about March just yet.

Winning heals all. I don’t know what stone-cold genius thought that one up. Unsaid person was onto something, though. Winning is a drug, an addiction, a feeling of success everyone chases but few truly achieve. The Duke basketball program has won 2,197 games in 115 seasons.

The Blue Devils are in a rare and select air, one usually reserved for 767s and Greek Gods. We as fans have been truly spoiled by watching Mike Krzyzewski in our lifetimes.

There are several reasons why Coach K is a consistent winner (1,080 wins in 40 years), but for the sake of this article, I’ll go with the most obvious one to me. The Duke basketball head man has never and will never look ahead to the next opponent. All that matters to K is the task at hand, whether it’s North Carolina, Monmouth, or Croatia in the Olympics.

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His Duke basketball players may ponder a future game. I myself am doing it as I type this up. We all usually know when the next ranked opponent is on the schedule, and we all set our fan clocks by it. If the Blue Devils are to secure a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, however, they must block all us mere mortals out and listen to Coach K.

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No. 7 Duke (21-3, 11-2 ACC) has seven games in the regular season remaining, none of which are against ranked opponents. What the combined opponents lack in rankings, though, they more than make up for in hunger.

The slate includes Notre Dame in Durham today at 4 p.m. (ESPN), N.C. State two more times, and Virginia on the road. That’s not to mention a trap game apiece against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech (oh, and not to mention a finale against that team from Chapel Hill).

My point is these upcoming opponents all need a resume-boosting win, and even in its worst year, Duke always qualifies. When teams beat the Blue Devils, they don’t just beat the squad on the floor. Opponents beat the coach, the fans, the annoying twitter promoters (hehe, a little self-deprecating humor, relax peers), and all the people who bask in the presence of true greatness.

Notre Dame is always a tough out. Virginia can beat anyone, anytime with that defense, and no easy games exist in regards to Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. I refuse to hammer home the cliché of throwing out the record books against UNC, but I will say Roy Williams doesn’t want to get smoked by Duke twice this year.

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This writer’s big concern on Duke’s remaining schedule is N.C. State. The Wolfpack get two cracks at the Blue Devils, and I guarantee they will come correct. Devon Daniels and C.J. Bryce are having renaissance seasons along with Manny Bates, who is the ACC co-leader in blocks. Markell Johnson is no slouch either, leading the league with 154 total assists.

The ACC is obviously winnable this year, and that should that motivate the Blue Devils more than it placates them. Duke can make a big statement to the selection committee and to the rest of the conference by running the table and entering March Madness with three total losses.

And as the remaining teams on the Duke basketball schedule will tell you, statements are the ultimate tournament currency.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more updates, analyses, and opinions regarding the 2019-20 Duke basketball team.