Duke is back in action on Saturday night against Miami after a full week off since its 78-69 loss at Louisville. For the Blue Devils, it's been a much-needed break that has allowed the team to heal a little, learn a lot and prepare for the rest of the ACC grind. The break has also given Jeff Capel a chance to convene with his staff -- and almost certainly Mike Krzyzewski, on the mend and still out indefinitely after back surgery -- and figure out how to take a big step forward with this hyper-talented group after a 2-3 start to ACC play.

That's important, because if things continue as they have been trending the 2016-17 Duke season will be a massive disappointment. The memories of Okafor, Winslow and Jones cutting down the nets are still so fresh that imagining Coach K doing it again with this group wasn't hard for anyone. Duke started the season at the top of the game, even with many of its star freshmen sidelined by injuries, and until ACC play things were still looking good.

Then came Grayson Allen drama, then Coach K's back surgery and now three ACC losses that have Duke, the preseason conference champion pick and most people national title favorite, sitting in the traffic jam that is the middle of the league standings.

"We have to do a lot more," Capel said bluntly on Monday during the ACC coaches teleconference. "We look forward to this week of working, having practice time and hopefully getting better."

If you've been living under a rock and somehow missed the wild highs and disappointing lows of Duke's first 18 games in 2016-17, here's what you need to know as they prepare to take the floor against the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

America's most incomplete resume

Even at their best, Duke's been incomplete for most of the season. Sophomore Luke Kennard and senior Matt Jones are the only primary contributors that haven't missed games for injuries or other reasons. Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum started their freshman campaigns on the bench healing from injuries, starting guards Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson have both missed at least one game (more on Allen below) and now Amile Jefferson is out indefinitely, listed day-to-day with an injury. Even reserve big man Chase Jeter has missed a couple contests with a twisted back and freshman Marques Bolden, a five-star center from Texas, was sidelined to start the season and has been slow to crack the rotation.

The lack of experience playing together only really shows up when the shots aren't falling, and since Duke is a top-10 team in offensive efficiency they've been able to outgun most of the competition. Since Tatum and Giles missed the start of the season and sat out against Kansas and Michigan State, ACC play is the first time they've faced top-notch competition. It's been a mixed bag of results. Tatum has been largely good, if not great, while Giles, again, is yet to look anything like the guy many hasd slotted as the likely No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft before his third knee surgery.

The bottom line is, we don't know exactly what Duke is yet. We know they're loaded with talent, which hasn't played much together, and that creates a lot of unknowns moving forward. Will they be in the NCAA Tournament field? Of course. Will they factor into the ACC title chase? Probably. Are they the favorite, or even one of the favorites, to win a national title?

At this point, that's a lot less certain than we thought it would be.

As it stands, the Blue Devils are not in Jerry Palm's top 10 tourney resumes.

The Grayson Allen files

Allen's conduct has been the biggest headline of Duke's season. The "hated Duke player" was a worn-out label applied liberally to Allen until he became a repeat offender of common decency on the basketball court. Before the tripping incidents there was always allegations of NBA-style flopping or traveling during his dramatic drives to the hoop. That kind of hate comes with being a high-scoring firecracker on one of the country's biggest national draws in terms of interest.

But the third tripping incident in less than 30 games made Allen's conduct a lightning rod for the media. Of all the things to discuss regarding this Duke basketball team -- Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum's health and development, Mike Krzyzewski's absence and what it might mean for Duke, whether this team will ever get Amile Jefferson back to double-double games and meaningful minutes -- it was Allen's conduct that has generated the most media attention.

"I've never seen this before. I especially have never seen it directed toward a college kid," Capel said Monday. "It's uncharted territory. The thing that we have talked to Grayson about is just worry about the team and worry about us. Focus on us, and not get caught up."

Capel went on to say that the scrutiny was coming from the media, not the fans. But even if the talking point is media generated, it's not like Allen is totally innocent in the situation either. Time and time again, he has put himself in a situation to be analyzed as a tripper, pusher or otherwise cheap-shot style player.

Not the most popular player in America at the moment. USATSI

How we got here: the Grayson Allen tripping drama timeline
  • Feb. 8, 2016: Allen trips Louisville's Ray Spalding, earns a Flagrant 1.
  • Feb. 26, 2016: In the final five seconds of a home win against Florida State, Allen gets caught up with Xavier Rathan-Mayes and sends the Seminole to the floor with an obvious trip.
  • Offseason 2016: After Duke and Allen spent most of the 2016 run defending these actions as a result of his high-energy hustle and physical play, the Devils superstar told ESPN he was "ready to put tripping incidents behind him" as he took on a leadership role in the program.
  • Dec. 21, 2016: "Oh no he did it again" is shouted in homes across the country as Allen trips an Elon player during an unexpectedly competitive holiday break non-conference game against the Phoenix in Greensboro, N.C. After getting sent to the bench, ESPN's cameras caught Allen screaming and beating the bench until he was calmed by assistant coach Jon Scheyer.
  • Dec. 22, 2016: Allen is suspended indefinitely by Duke. He misses the Blue Devils' ACC opener, a 14-point loss at Virginia Tech on Dec. 31, and returns to the lineup the following week.
  • Jan. 10, 2017: While diving for a loose ball near the Florida State bench, Allen is singled out for getting physical with assistant coach Dennis Gates, appearing to shove him with two hands as went to the ground. Pundits already on Allen-alert went crazy, while Gates called it "a great hustle play" and the ACC chose not to take action.
  • Jan. 14, 2017: Allen again is the subject of an ACC review following the slap of Louisville's Donovan Mitchell while fighting for a loose ball. The league ruled that the contact was inadvertent, but the continuation of this drama nearly overshadowed Allen's game-high 23 points and Duke's second straight loss.

"Now he's become a villain. He's become a person that people want to look at every single thing and try to decipher anything that he's going to do wrong. And the problem is he's aware of that," North Florida coach Matt Driscoll, who has known Allen since eighth grade, told CBS Sports' Bill Reiter this week.

Reiter argued that while Allen needs to rein it in, it's also on us to move on from overreacting to every Allen play involving physical contact. Some of this will happen naturally, as the season inches towards March and the national focus moves from these mini-stories to league championship races and NCAA Tournament contention. But the Grayson Allen story is also representative of Duke's season so far: Unlimited potential capped by factors unrelated to the ability to put the ball through the basket.

Where we go from here

We've been here before: each of the last two seasons has included back-to-back ACC losses early that set off all the alarms in Durham. Last season the Blue Devils made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to Oregon, the year before they won it all.

Miami is the beginning of a three-game stretch of expected wins for the Blue Devils: Miami, NC State and at Wake Forest. That would get Duke to 5-3 in conference play and, with an expected improvement in on-court familiarity, they might well look like a team ready to make the same kind of run through ACC play that they did in 2015 (11 straight to close the regular season) and 2016 (a five-game run in February that included consecutive wins against Louisville, Virginia and North Carolina).

Currently KenPom's projections have Duke finishing with a 10-8 record in the ACC and 22-9 overall. That will be good enough to be on the safe side of the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, but is that going to be the safe side of public opinion? Most certainly not. The most talented roster in the ACC should have a record that reflects title contention, but right now Duke's out of the league's top tier and only a winning streak can get them back into the conversation as one of the best teams in college basketball's best conference.