Duke is oddly snake-bitten. The consensus preseason No. 1 team cannot avoid injuries, specifically ones to critical front-court players. First came the news that potential star freshman Harry Giles needed his knee scoped. Then, less than two weeks ago, another standout first-year player, Jayson Tatum, injured his foot. He and Giles are still not on the floor.

Then on Monday, the program announced Marques Bolden, a freshman who was a five-star prospect, injured his lower leg. I'm told it's the left leg, and that the injury happened in practice. Bolden did not play in Duke's exhibition Friday, meaning it's probably the injury happened before that exhibition last week. Bolden did play -- and scored a double-double -- in Duke's exhibition on Oct. 28.

With Bolden out for now, Giles' return unknown and Tatum's foot still not yet cleared for action, Duke takes on the odd target of being a No. 1-ranked team who can't put personnel on the floor -- right now -- to justify that appraisal.

Still, the Blue Devils have preseason player of the year favorite Grayson Allen, plus critical returning vets Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson. Luke Kennard, a sophomore sharpshooter, has looked good and should be a double-digit scorer. And there is one more former five-star prospect, Frank Jackson, who's earning his way into Mike Krzyzewski's system. So Duke is still plenty capable.

But with three notable injuries to its front court before the first regular-season game can even happen? It's bizarre. Duke starts its season Friday night at home against Marist. On Saturday, Grand Canyon is in Durham, making for a rare college hoops home-court back-to-back.

Marques Bolden is considered the stopgap down low if Harry Giles isn't on the floor. Getty Images