Tag:Duke
Posted on: February 27, 2011 12:12 am
Edited on: February 27, 2011 12:22 am
 

Next Saturday is shaping up to be fun

Remember when Duke was undefeated and rolling with Kyrie Irving at the point?

Back then, nobody debated No. 1.

Nobody really even debated who would be our eventual national champion.

But now look.

The Blue Devils just took their third loss -- a 64-60 loss at Virginia Tech late Saturday -- and are no longer a lock (or perhaps even a favorite) to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Heck, they're now just a North Carolina win over Maryland on Sunday from being in a first-place tie in the ACC with the Tar Heels, which means we're now just a week away from a Duke-UNC regular-season finale that'll likely determine the outright ACC champion.

That's Duke vs. UNC next Saturday.

In primetime.

On CBS.

Yes, I'll be there.

And yes, I'm looking forward to it.

But I never would've imagined three months ago that Duke would be without the No. 1 ranking, at risk of missing out on a No. 1 seed and in need of a strong final week just to secure a league title. Of course, Duke had Irving back then and UNC had Larry Drew II. Now both point guards are out of the picture, which is why the gap between the two programs closed.

Irving's toe injury made Duke worse.

Drew's decision to quit allowed UNC to get better.

Now the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are basically tied atop the ACC.

It must be a thrilling turn of events for Roy Williams ... and infuriating to Mike Krzyzewski.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 23, 2011 2:02 pm
 

Jimmer still leading POY straw poll

The results of the latest AnnArbor.com National Player of the Year straw poll are now available.

They reflect the exact ballot I turned in yesterday.
  1. Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
  2. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
  3. Nolan Smith (Duke)
Kemba Walker (Connecticut) and Derrick Williams (Arizona) round out the top five.

Click this link to see all of the results.
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:50 am
 

My current top three for POY

I just submitted my top three National Player of the Year candidates for the AnnArbor.com straw poll.

Here's what I sent Mike Rothstein:
  1. Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
  2. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
  3. Nolan Smith (Duke)
The results of the straw poll will be announced later this week.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 2:49 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 3:12 pm
 

The Poll Attacks

Pittsburgh is fourth in the AP poll and sixth in the coaches poll.

And two AP voters ranked the Panthers ninth.

I won't stand for any of it.

I'm about to get my Poll Attack on.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll: For the AP portion of this week's Poll Attacks, let's play blind body of work.

You ready?

Let's go!

----- TEAM A -----

Record: 24-3
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 6-2
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 7-3
Losses outside RPI Top 25: 1
Double-digit losses: 0
Wins over teams currently ranked in the AP poll: 5

----- TEAM B -----

Record: 23-4
Record vs. RPI Top 25: 0-2
Record vs. RPI Top 50: 2-3
Losses outside RPI Top 25: 2
Double-digit losses: 2
Wins over teams currently ranked in the AP poll: 0

Team A is Pittsburgh and Team B is Arizona.

Is there any question which team has the better body of work?

Pittsburgh has more wins, fewer losses, better wins and better losses than Arizona, and the Panthers have beaten five currently ranked teams while Arizona has topped zero. Still, Jerry Tipton and Myron Medcalf both have Arizona ranked No. 8 and Pittsburgh ranked No. 9. This is proof that it's possible to be a great beat writer and still slip on your Top 25 ballot every once in a while. They're wrong, but I forgive them. As for the coaches ...

Coaches poll: The Duke Blue Devils are No. 1 in the AP and coaches polls even though they have just one win over a fellow Top 25 team (North Carolina). Even though they have a loss to an unranked team (Florida State) and another by 15 points to a team (St. John's) that just broke into the rankings this week. Even though they are sixth in the RPI. And even though they are still projected as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament by everybody who understands how to project such things.

So the top of both polls are silly.

But what bothers me most is Pittsburgh at No. 6 in the coaches poll.

I don't care if you rank by body of work or quality of play, there's no way to conclude that five teams deserve to be ranked ahead of Jamie Dixon's Panthers. As I told you earlier, Pitt is 24-3 with five wins over teams also ranked in the coaches poll -- specifically No. 5 Texas, No. 11 Georgetown, No. 14 Villanova, No. 15 Connecticut and No. 20 Syracuse. For the purposes of comparison, No. 1 Duke (25-2) has one win over a team also ranked in the coaches poll. No. 2 Kansas (25-2) has two. No. 3 Ohio State (25-2) has two. No. 4 San Diego State (27-1) has zero. No. 5 Texas (23-4) has five.

In the loss column, obviously, Ohio State is best. The Buckeyes' only two losses are at No. 8 Purdue and at No. 12 Wisconsin. They're the lone team with at least six wins over top-50 RPI schools and zero losses to schools unranked in the latest coaches poll, which is why I put Ohio State No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one). For the purposes of comparison, No. 1 Duke has lost to one currently unranked team (again, Florida State), No. 2 Kansas has lost to one currently unranked team (Kansas State), No. 4 San Diego State has lost to zero currently unranked teams and No. 5 Texas has lost to two currently unranked teams (Southern California and Nebraska).

Got all that?

Good.

Here's what it means: Texas might have comparable wins to Pittsburgh, but the Longhorns have worse losses (not to mention a loss to Pittsburgh). And Duke, Kansas and San Diego State might have better (and by better, I mean fewer) losses than Pittsburgh, but the Blue Devils, Jayhawks and Aztecs can't touch Pitt in terms of quality wins. Ohio State? Yes, OSU is rock-solid; that's why I have OSU No. 1. But it's difficult to justify having anybody besides Ohio State ahead of the Panthers, and it's impossible to justify having a total of five schools ahead of Pittsburgh.

That said, know this: Pitt would without question be a No. 1 seed if the NCAA tournament started today

So take solace in that, Pitt fans.

The selection committee is smarter than the men who vote in the coaches poll, I assure you.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Fredette leads POY straw poll

The results of the latest AnnArbor.com National Player of the Year straw poll are now available.

They reflect the exact ballot I turned in yesterday.
  1. Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
  2. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
  3. Kemba Walker (Connecticut)
Nolan Smith (Duke) and Derrick Williams (Arizona) round out the top five.

Click this link to see all of the results.
Posted on: February 7, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Duke lands another elite recruit

Alex Murphy ended his recruitment Monday when he committed to Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils.

"The whole process was fun, but, like everybody says, when you get it off your chest ... it’s just nice to know everything is set in stone," Murphy told Scout.com. "Like I said, it just feels good."

Murphy -- the younger brother of Florida's Erik Murphy -- is a standout in the Class of 2012, though it's possible he could graduate early and enroll at Duke in time for next season. The 6-foot-8 forward from Massachusetts told Scout.com that decision will be made later.

"I’m going to focus on my high school season and finish it out strong and hopefully win a championship," Murphy said. "The 2011 and 2012 thing will be something discussed with my family sometime in the spring and after the season."

Scout.com and Rivals.com both rank Murphy as the No. 11 prospect in the Class of 2012.

He accepted an offer from Duke while rejecting offers from Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and many others.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 4:10 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 4:17 pm
 

The Poll Attacks

You want to know why more than half of the AP voters have Duke outside of the top five?

Because that's where the Blue Devils belong.

You want to know why one AP voter has Duke inside of the top two?

Because ... I have no idea.

But I appreciate Ron Morris doing it because it makes for an easy Poll Attacks.

Associated Press poll: Where would you rank a team that's A) suffered two losses to currently unranked teams, B) beaten zero currently ranked teams, C) gone 2-2 against four unranked teams in true road games, and D) been without its best player since early December?

If your name is Ron Morris, you'd rank that team second.

You'd be crazy, of course.

But that's what you'd do.

Because that's what Ron did.

(You can click this link see for yourself thanks to PollSpeak.com)

Granted, this is better than last week, when Ron was the lone AP voter who had Duke ahead of Ohio State. But it's still wrong because the Blue Devils' resume wasn't worthy of a No. 2 ranking last week, and it sure isn't worthy of No. 2 ranking after Sunday's blowout loss at St. Johns. To prove this, let's compare the bodies of work of the school Ron has No. 2 (Duke) and the school I have No. 2 (Pittsburgh).

----- Duke -----

Record: 19-2
Wins over currently ranked teams: 0
Losses to currently unranked teams: 2 (Florida State, St. John's)
Losses to currently ranked teams: 0

----- Pitt -----

Record: 20-2
Wins over currently ranked teams: 4 (No. 3 Texas, No. 6 Connecticut, No. 13 Georgetown, No. 17 Syracuse)
Losses to currently unranked teams: 1 (Tennessee)
Losses to currently ranked teams: 1 (No. 9 Notre Dame)

Now allow me to recap: Pitt has at least four wins better than any win Duke possesses, and Pitt has only one loss to a currently unranked team whereas Duke has two. So the Panthers have more wins than Duke, better wins than Duke and two losses that aren't as bad as Duke's two losses. And yet Ron has Duke No. 2 and Pittsburgh No. 4. I bet you a briefcase full of Charlie Sheen's coke that he couldn't possibly defend that order with anything of substance.

Coaches poll: We might find out in March that Utah State is the next Butler or George Mason or whatever, at which point this version of the Poll Attacks will look stupid. But for now the coaches ranking the Aggies 21st is what looks stupid.

What's it based on?

A bunch of bad victories?

The Aggies have played two legitimate basketball teams (BYU and Georgetown) and lost both games by an average of 11.5 points. Beyond that, they haven't done much of note. All 20 of their wins are against teams ranked outside of the Top 100 of the latest RPI, meaning Utah State is 0-2 against the Top 100 and 20-0 against teams outside of the Top 100. Congratulations, I guess. But where I'm from, that's not good enough. You want to be ranked, beat somebody. Because beating a bunch of nobodies doesn't do much for me. Again, if Utah State proves me wrong in March, I'll apologize. But for now the Aggies are just a team stacking wins against weak competition after losing their only two games against good competition.

Posted on: January 30, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 4:34 am
 

Can Duke get a No. 1 seed without quality wins?

It's funny how the conversation consistently shifts in college basketball. For instance ...

Old question: Will Duke go undefeated this season?

New question: Will Duke even earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament this season?

We were debating the first question three weeks ago, but Florida State put it to rest on Jan. 12 with a 66-61 win over the Blue Devils. Now it's time to address the second question, and the answer might surprise you because it's possible the answer is that, no, the Blue Devils will not get a No. 1 seed because they're going to be lacking quality wins to offset bad losses like the blowout loss they took Sunday at St. John's.

Final score: St. John's 93, Duke 78.

And I don't care where St. John's sits in the RPI, it's a bad loss when you lose by 15 points to a team that had already lost eight games, including games to St. Bonaventure and Fordham. Can it be explained? Sure. The Blue Devils were 5-of-26 from 3-point range while committing 17 turnovers; good luck beating anybody of quality with those stats. So, yeah, I understand why Duke lost Sunday. What I'm having a more difficult time understanding is how the Blue Devils are going to earn a No. 1 seed with no great wins and at least two questionable losses.

That's the real problem with the ACC being down in relation to Duke.

(Contrary to what some would have you believe, Duke didn't lose to St. John's on Sunday because the ACC is weak and the Big East is great any more than St. John's lost to St. Bonaventure last month because the Big East is great and the Atlantic 10 is whatever. One, quite simply, has nothing to do with the other. Duke lost to St. John's on Sunday because Duke is a flawed team that played poorly and St. John's is a better-than-its-record team that played well. As for the Big East and ACC in general, the bottom line is this: The Big East is awesome and the ACC stinks. But those are two things we knew yesterday, i.e., before St. John's-Duke even tipped. My advice: Don't ever draw grand conclusions about leagues from the outcome of any one game ... unless it's a football game between SEC and Big Ten members. In that case, feel free to draw whatever conclusion you like. But I digress ...)

The lack of quailty in the ACC won't "fail to prepare" Duke for the 2011 NCAA tournament any more than the lack of quality in the Horizon League failed to prepare Butler for the 2010 NCAA tournament. But what it might do is prevent Duke from earning a No. 1 seed because the quality wins just aren't going to be available. The Blue Devils beat Marquette, Kansas State, Michigan State and Butler early, but only the Marquette win can reasonably be considered a quality win now. Making things worse is that no team on Duke's past or future schedule -- except for maybe Marquette and/or North Carolina -- figures to be ranked when the AP poll is updated Monday. So whereas Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Kansas and Texas still have plenty of chances to stack nice wins, all Duke can really do is stack OK wins or bad losses.

That's a tough spot.

Does it mean Duke can't win the national title?

Of course it doesn't mean that.

It's important to remember Duke was 17-4 and coming off a 12-point loss to Georgetown on this day last season, and the Blue Devils ended up winning that national title, which is why dismissing them as a legitimate candidate this season because of what happened Sunday would be equal parts premature and stupid. But what's neither premature nor stupid is to wonder whether a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament is possible. If it doesn't happen, it won't necessarily be because the Blue Devils aren't good enough. Rather, it'll likely be rooted in the fact that their body of work will lack quality wins because their schedule doesn't provide many, if any, opportunities to record them.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Duke, St. John's
 
 
 
 
 
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