Duke Blue Devils
Record: (24-7, 13-5 ACC)
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
How They Qualified:
Duke entered this season ranked #4 and picked to win the ACC. Those were lofty expectations considering the Blue Devils lost their top three scorers from the previous season in Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly. However, what Duke had coming in to replace those guys was what raised the stakes. McDonald’s All-American, Jabari Parker, was considered the top recruit coming in and a likely one-and-done type player. They also had Mississippi State transfer, Rodney Hood, also a McDonald’s All-American eligible to play.
This season has not been the most consistent one for the Blue Devils as Duke showed stretches of not living up to those preseason expectations and other periods where they looked every bit the part. Parker, despite one quiet stretch in January, proved to be everything Duke fans had hoped for and more. His season finale against North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium was a dominant performance as there’s been in that rivalry in years. He earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors and barely lost out on Player of the Year to North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren.
Duke had big wins against Michigan, Syracuse, Virginia and UNC. They also had losses to against Kansas, Arizona, Syracuse, and at UNC. The key to their big wins and much of their success wasn’t just the play of Parker, but the breakout year that Rodney Hood had. When he complimented Parker with a big game of his own, particularly from the perimeter, Duke was hard to beat. However, the inability to win big road games allowed Virginia to sneak by and win the ACC. Now it’s up to tournament time to see if they can reach their potential and live up to their expectations.
What You Need to Know
Leading Scorer: Jabari Parker – 19.2pts per game
Leading Rebounder: Jabari Parker – 9.0 rebounds per game
Leading Passer: Quin Cook – 4.5 assists per game
Bad Losses: @ Clemson, @ Wake Forest
Good Wins: Michigan, UCLA, Virginia, Syracuse, UNC
What to Expect
Duke’s success will depend on whether the players decide to play Duke defense. The have one of the Top 3 players in the country in Jabari Parker. They have another lottery pick in Rodney Hood. Coach K has all of the pieces they need to make a deep run all the way to the Final Four. Don’t count out Coach K. This is the time of year he gets the most out of his teams. 2010 is a perfect example of his ability to make a good team great for a six-game run.