Duke basketball back where it belongs as regular season ends

Duke basketball forward Kyle Filipowski (Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward Kyle Filipowski (Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball team is back where it belongs entering ACC Tournament. 

It has been a long time since the Duke basketball team had a number next to its name.

In fact, January 14 was the last time the Blue Devils were ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 Poll.

An 8-point road loss to Clemson, 72-64, pushed Jon Scheyer’s team out of the rankings and the closest time it had a chance at cracking back into the club was after a three-game winning streak over Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and North Carolina.

However, a dismal showing against Miami and gut-wrenching double overtime loss to Virginia crushed the opportunity to be ranked again until last week.

Riding a four game winning streak, Duke was just on the outside of the AP-Top-25 and victories against North Carolina State and North Carolina would almost certainly get the Blue Devils back in the rankings ahead of the postseason.

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Mission accomplished.

Duke now sits at No. 21 in the AP Poll after a 71-67 win over the Wolfpack and 62-57 comeback victory on the road against the Tar Heels.

The Blue Devils joined TCU, Kentucky, Creighton, and Missouri, all listed behind Duke, as teams debuting in the poll this week after not being ranked the week prior.

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ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, in his most recent bracket as of Tuesday morning, as the Blue Devils as a No. 7 seed in the South Region.

The seeding makes little sense considering Duke was a 6-seed entering Saturday’s game against North Carolina, according to Lunardi, and trending upwards before securing another Quadrant 1 victory and somehow he dropped them a seed line.

Nevertheless, Duke will have a chance to significantly improve its NCAA Tournament seeding this week in Greensboro as the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament.

A rematch with Pittsburgh is likely in the quarterfinals, should the Panthers defeat either Florida State or Georgia Tech.

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Pittsburgh is ranked just outside of the AP Top-25 this week after dropping back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Miami since coming in at No. 25 last week.

The Blue Devils are likely to have to go through No. 1 seed Miami, No. 14 in the AP Poll, in the semifinals and potentially No. 2 seed Virginia, No. 13 in the AP Poll, in the championship should Jon Scheyer want to win an ACC Championship in his first season at the helm of the program.

Storylines will certainly continue to grow as the week progresses and Selection Sunday inches closer.

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