February 4, 2010
I know Duke is one of the premier college basketball programs in the nation. I know it's one the flag-bearers for ACC basketball year-in and year-out. I know it's tied for first place in the conference standings heading into tonight's home game versus Georgia Tech. I know Mike Krzyzewski is a great coach, among the greatest I've ever met. And I think I know that Duke will win at least one national championship this decade. I just don't think it will be this year. I don't even think Duke is the best team in the ACC this year. With UNC being down, modern wisdom says that more times than not, Duke wins the conference. Why wouldn't it this year? The Blue Devils have an impressive array of weapons — size, power, shooters, ball handling, experience, youth, coaching. They just don't have a lot of athleticism, and they don't have many future pros, i.e. game-changers. What's going to happen when games get physical and refs let opponents lean on Duke a little? Who's going to make plays when everything else breaks down? I think I saw a preview in last Saturday's Georgetown loss, but I really didn't need to. I've seen this story play out before, in disappointing NCAA Tournament loss after disappointing NCAA Tournament loss since the 2001 national championship. Even if Duke does win the ACC regular season title, I bet it doesn't win the conference tournament. Much less the national championship. I could be wrong, but I'm just not a believer.