14. Duke (15-4)
As has been the case for several decades, Duke is right there, looking to show that they belong among the best teams in the nation. Their case is slightly weaker this season, even with a lineup packed with talent for second-year head coach Jon Scheyer. It’s not just a lack of impressive wins, but some of these losses have been head scratchers, and the Blue Devils flirted with another this past week.
Tuesday night’s action wasn’t the struggle, as the Blue Devils won 83-69 on the road against a Louisville program that’s really struggled. Tyrese Proctor scored 24 points off the bench while both Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell had double-doubles. The team then survived a close call on Saturday, winning 72-71 over Clemson in a game where the lead changed three times in the final 20 seconds. Jared McCain had 21 points, though it was Proctor who hit the game-winning free throws in the final seconds.
Where exactly does this leave the Blue Devils? They’re still in fine shape in the ACC at 6-2, but it’s fair to wonder about a team that has played three straight close games at home in a row. There aren’t a lot of chances for great wins in this year’s ACC and the Blue Devils need to start playing better basketball as the season nears March. Fortunately, they have opportunities aplenty, as they’ll head out to Virginia Tech and North Carolina for two big ones next week.