Duke basketball: Why Blue Devils are still in great position

Duke basketball (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

History tells us that it is not time to count out Duke basketball just yet.

It looked like the Duke basketball team had turned the corner after defeating Georgia Tech and beating the brakes off Clemson at home last week. However, right around the corner was a giant roadblock in the form of the Miami Hurricanes (7-10, 3-9 ACC).

The Blue Devils (7-6, 5-4 ACC) were far from deserving of victory in Monday night’s 77-75 loss on the road. They lacked energy, struggled with turnovers, and couldn’t guard a shadow.

Despite this bad loss, they are still in a great position.

There is no denying that the team’s latest defeat to Miami will be considered a bad loss. The majority of teams are unable to go through a season without suffering a bad loss. While the loss in Coral Gables certainly doesn’t help Duke’s chances, it is not a deathblow to tournament hopes.

The Blue Devils still have opportunities to gain quality wins as they have two games against North Carolina and a matchup at home against Virginia.

Duke is still 5-4 in conference play this season. There are only five other teams that have records above .500 in the ACC.  If the Blue Devils can maintain a winning record in ACC play, they should be able to get into the NCAA Tournament.

One of the last times Duke lost to Miami in what was considered a bad loss came back in 2015. After that game, the Blue Devils went on to run the table and did not lose again until the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. That team under Mike Krzyzewski then went on to win the national championship in Indianapolis.

Where is the NCAA Tournament this year? That’s right, it’s in Indianapolis. History tends to repeat itself, and the 2021 Blue Devils find themselves in a somewhat similar situation to the 2015 Blue Devils.

Important for Duke basketball fans to keep perspective

The Blue Devils played just their 13th game of the season on Monday night. The game was once again close, going back and forth for nearly 40 minutes with 20 lead changes. Duke also had opportunities to pull ahead and win the game, even in the final seconds.

This team is still learning how to play in close games and, more importantly, how to win close games. All these close-game losses provide learning opportunities for Duke moving forward. It is only a matter of time before the lessons translate to victories.

It is not yet time to press the panic button. There is still over a month left in the season, and anything can happen.

Just like at Virginia last year.

Around this same point in the 2019-20 season, the reigning champs in Charlottesville seemed destined for the NIT. At one point in late January, the team had lost four out of five, including at Boston College and at home against NC State and Syracuse; from Dec. 4 through Feb. 8, Virginia posted an 8-7 record.

But the Cavaliers were able to go on a late-season run and accumulate some high-quality wins. Even though March Madness never happened, they would have safely been in the Big Dance.

Likewise, there are still plenty of opportunities left for these Blue Devils. They just have to take advantage of them.

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