Parity is thrown around quite often when talking about college basketball. However, Sports Illustrated isn’t buying into that narrative — at least not this year. Dan Greene of Sports Illustrated argued this week that there are only eight true contenders and included Duke on that list.
Starting at the end of January, Duke lost three out of four, including two in a row to St. John’s and North Carolina. But the Blue Devils have won two straight both by double digits and are tied with Clemson for second place at 9-4 in the ACC. Duke is also 21-5 overall.
The loss to the struggling St. John’s Red Storm was certainly concerning, but Duke’s championship pedigree was enough for Greene to include the Blue Devils on his list.
The Blue Devils’ inclusion is most justified by their past and future selves: the team everyone expected them to be before the season, when they entered the year ranked No. 1, and the team they may be a month from now. Duke’s defense has been an issue for months, but with such a young team and such a bevy of offensive talent—all under the tutelage of one of the game’s best coaches ever—it’s not wholly unreasonable to think that some light bulb might switch on over the next seven weeks. Marvin Bagley III will be (arguably, at worst) the best player on the floor in all of their games, and is it that hard to imagine Grayson Allen going out with that kind of bang? If the defense and point guard situation improve, there isn’t a team in this range with a higher ceiling.
Duke will next face Clemson on the road on Sunday. The winner of that game will move into sole possession of second place in the ACC behind only Virginia, who was the only other ACC team Greene included on his list of eight teams that can win the 2018 title.
The other six teams on his list were Purdue, Michigan State, Villanova, Arizona, Gonzaga and Kansas.
The post Sports Illustrated includes Duke as 1 of 8 teams that will win NCAA Tournament appeared first on Diehards.
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