The Duke Blue Devils are who we thought they were. Just a little bit better.
Coming into the 2012-13 season, Mike Krzyzewski's squad—much like pretty much every other team he's ever had in Durham—had high expectations. It was ranked No. 8 overall and picked by most to finish second in the ACC.
Well, with North Carolina State and North Carolina both off to disappointing starts, the Blue Devils, thanks to six impressive wins in six games, are now looking like the favorite in the crowded conference. Additionally, they have quickly risen to No. 2 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.
Two is good and all, but—not to be greedy or anything on this Cyber Monday—one is better. And that's what the Blue Devils deserve.
The Hoosiers entered the season as the consensus No. 1, and at 6-0, they haven't done anything to lose that spot. Duke has just done much more.
First, Coach K's team took out then-No. 3 Kentucky in the Georgia Dome two weeks ago. Sure, the Wildcats are full of youth and still without a point guard, but Duke easily controlled that entire game despite winning by just seven.
After a cupcake against the powerhouse that is Florida Gulf Coast, Duke dominated a loaded field at Battle 4 Atlantis.
It beat a better-than-you-think Minnesota team that boasts NBA talent in Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams along with the dynamite scoring of Andre Hollins. By 18 points. It beat Shaka Smart and the always dangerous VCU Rams by nine. It beat then-No. 2 Louisville in the championship and trailed for a total of just 63 seconds.
Behind an unreal start by Mason Plumlee (22.8 points, 11.6 rebounds per game, fantastic defense at the rim), excellent efficiency from volume shooter Seth Curry (1.15 points per play), energetic play from freshman Rasheed Sulaimon and, most importantly, improved point guard play from Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton, the Blue Devils have been the most impressive team in the country over the opening three weeks.
And as for the top-ranked Hoosiers? They've struggled to beat Georgia and only have one good win on their resume—an overtime victory against an underrated Georgetown squad, which, to Indiana's credit, is oozing with talent and length.
It was a good win, but not as good as Duke's four. According to Ken Pomeroy, the Blue Devils' schedule so far has been the sixth toughest in the nation, while Indiana's has been 269th.
I understand that the Hoosiers came into the year No. 1 and that's why they still hold onto the spot, but preseason rankings are more of an estimate than anything. They shouldn't have more merit than the opening 21 days of play.
This isn't a debate about who would win between Indiana and Duke. I still worry about Duke's depth and ability to defend, especially against Indiana, which has done nothing to make us believe it doesn't have the best offense in the country.
At the very least, it would be a highly entertaining game between two of the best offenses in the country.
But for now, Duke has earned the No. 1 spot. Indiana hasn't.
After this week's ACC/Big Ten Challenge, we'll luckily have a much clearer picture.
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