An article by Rob Dauster on NBC Sports:
"Iíve said it before and Iíll say it again: winning is a skill. The confidence to execute in late-game situations and the mental capacity to perform under pressure is a trait that isnít found in every player or team. Think about it like this: how many players that are good jump-shooters struggle from the free throw line? Its not always about technique. Confidence plays a role, too.
Its the same thing for executing under pressure.
They came back from 10 down in the final two minutes to beat North Carolina. They came back from 20 down in the final 11 minutes to beat NC State. They erased a 17 point deficit to force overtime in their loss to Miami. Most importantly, they are 24-4 on the season and 11-2 in ACC play.
While the reasons behind those big deficits are quite clear, you cannot talk about the Blue Devils without saying unequivocally that this group has put together as many impressive wins as anyone in the country."
The ability to stay composed under adversity, particularly in hostile environments, is definitely a good sign. This team is far tougher mentally than it appeared even just a few weeks ago.
It's still a team with flaws, and the wrong matchup in the 2nd round of the NCAAT could be fatal. But "contender" for the F4 is a fair assessment - Duke is in the discussion.
I'd have more confidence in them in the NCAAs if they didn't fall that far behind in the first place.They came back from 10 down in the final two minutes to beat North Carolina. They came back from 20 down in the final 11 minutes to beat NC State. They erased a 17 point deficit to force overtime in their loss to Miami.
Well, I thought they were somewhat of a Final Four contender before, but maybe that's just me. A couple weeks ago, I think people were putting too much weight on close losses to FSU and Miami; now I think people are overly emphasizing one big win at FSU. In my opinion, any team's chances are not changed all that much by their performance in one game. (Except of course UNC losing by 33; that pretty much doomed their chances ).
Two days ago, I heard there was no way Duke could get a #1 seed. Now we're a frontrunner? Come on. What's going to happen if we start slow against Virginia Tech tomorrow? Back to a #2 at halftime?
Has the team improved over the past month? Of course it has. Didn't you expect it to? Hopefully, we'll continue to improve. But whether we do or not, people should realize that college teams (and players) rarely "are what they are." When your team is filled with teenagers, everything changes constantly.
Still a lot of basketball to go and Duke still has its flaws and is far from a clear cut top seed but if the shoe fits.
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Its all about perception and perspective. This team doesn't feel like a #1 seed compared to other Duke teams that have been #1 seeds. But compared to the other teams that are also in the mix this year for a #1 seed? Yeah, their are one.
This is one of the reasons I love college basketball.. . . people should realize that college teams (and players) rarely "are what they are." When your team is filled with teenagers, everything changes constantly.
We're #4 in the nation and have a stellar resume. We've beaten three of the other top contenders head-to-head, one on the road and one on a neutral court. A lot can happen between now and Selection Sunday, but as of today we absolutely are a #1 seed, and it's well-deserved.
I'll be honest, I didn't expect Ohio St. to struggle as much in terms of W-L record. It definitely opens the door for Duke to take a number 1 seed. And while I don't think this team is at the level that we can definitively say it's one of the 4 best teams in the country, it is shaping up exactly as we all hoped earlier in the season. Austin took his lumps for a bit in January, but has had some incredible February games. In some ways, last night may have actually been his best. Yes, nothing will ever trump his UNC performance (the 26 points prior to the final three were at least as impressive), but he played with such maturity last night at FSU. He has become much less erratic with his decision-making and is getting his teammates involved more frequently (there have been a number of games where some better shooting from open shooters would have given him far more impressive assist totals). Meanwhile, the team as a whole has tightened up it's offensive execution in late game situations AND has begun to tighten up the D.
I've always felt that the individual talent level on this team was ahead of it's execution and focus, meaning that as the team matured and developed chemistry, the ceiling would get higher and higher. While I'm not convinced we're one of the 4 best teams in the country, our W-L record says otherwise and I am certain that we can end up as one of the 4 best as long as we continue on our current trajectory.
I personally think that Duke is a top 4 team, but it doesn't matter that much if we're top 4 or top 8. It will come down to injuries and brackets. I think everyone's heart was in our throat last night when Austin went down, but thankfully he looks like he'll be okay. Hopefully the basketball gods will endow the team with good health and good matchups in our brackets. I'd rather be a top 8 team with those things going for us than a top 4 team without.
I think we all can agree that the offense is final four good, but the defense not so much. If our defense or our rebounding were closer to elite we might be one of the favorites. I do like that this team can close out games. We still have not had a game where we are firing on all cylinders. I think most would agree we are getting better. Man I love college ball.
The defense just isn't good enough for us to weather a poor shooting night. There have been a lot of years where the book on Duke was "live by 3, die by 3" even when that wasn't the case at all. This year, the book fits. We don't defensively rebound well enough nor do we play defense well enough to weather a poor shooting night. Is this Duke team capable of getting to the FF? Yes, but it's also a lot more capable than many years of losing to a double digit seed that's got a couple of decent guards and catches Duke on a night when the shots just don't fall from 3 point range at nearly 40%
but the team seems to be wildly inconsistent, even with wins (one awful stretch or half, one brilliant run), that seems to be a focus/effort issue. Although, they seem to be working that out hopefully. I always think Duke has a final four team, an offshoot of having watched a series of late 80's Duke teams go 9-5 in conference and still make a Final Four run.
That said, what worries me the most is the drubbing in Columbus and the loss at Temple. Final Four teams generally don't get gobsmacked by anyone (with the notable exception of the '91 team which Kerlina destroyed in the ACC tourney).
It will be a fun tourney from excitment level, that's for sure.