Duke basketball: X-Factor has emerged as March arrives

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The X-Factor in March for the Duke basketball team has become very clear. 

The Duke basketball team has caught fire at the right time going into March and one of its unsung heroes will be the program’s X-Factor for a lengthy postseason run.

Mark Mitchell was one of the forgotten players of the incoming Blue Devil freshmen.

He didn’t have the hype like the top overall recruit, Dereck Lively, or the jaw-dropping star potential of Dariq Whitehead.

The intrigue of 7-footer Kyle Filipowski was greater because of his ability to play around the perimeter as was the curiosity of Australian guard Tyrese Proctor, who reclassified a year earlier and had experience with his country’s national team.

However that hasn’t matter for the 6-foot-8 forward, who scored a game-high 19 points in last year’s McDonald’s High School All-American Game.

ALSO READ: Duke commit Mackenzie Mgbako explodes in championship

Mitchell has continuously showed up for the Blue Devils and performed well, specifically in Duke’s recent five-game winning streak, in which he is averaging 11.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest while shooting 20-for-34 (58.8-percent) from the field and missing just one free throw in 15 attempts during the stretch.

Duke basketball wins when freshman forward performs

Duke is 12-0 on the season when Mark Mitchell scores at least 10 points and his inaugural season in Durham has seen him post 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

ALSO READ: Duke rallies to beat North Carolina in ACC Tournament

The Blue Devils will finish the regular season on Saturday night against North Carolina in Chapel Hill before beginning its run to another ACC Tournament Championship next week.

It still remains unclear when Duke will take the floor at the Greensboro Coliseum since the team can still earn a double-bye if things break its way during the final day of the season and finish in the Top-4 of the conference, but the Blue Devils have already secured a single bye and will not play until at least Wednesday, March 8.