Duke Basketball: Can the Blue Devils Remain Undefeated the Whole Season?

Josh BackmanContributor IIIJanuary 5, 2013

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Mason Plumlee #5, Rasheed Sulaimon #14 and Ryan Kelly #34 of the Duke Blue Devils react following a play against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke defeated Florida Gulf Coast 88-67. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Lance King/Getty Images

As the Blue Devils stay at the top of the rankings in college basketball, they still remain one of the scarce amount of teams with a zero in the loss department. As ACC play approaches, many will begin to speculate the Blue Devils' first potential defeat.

It has not been since Bob Knight's Indiana squad in 1975-76 that a team has gone undefeated and won the national championship.

Some critics feel it will be inevitable that Duke will seemingly find a way to lose in ACC play, but once I went deeper into the competition of the ACC, I concluded that it would be realistic for Duke to find its way undefeated heading into tournament play.

Wake Forest, Florida State, Boston College and Clemson all should be towards the middle-to-bottom of the standings and really will not pose a threat to Duke this season. These teams are deprived of talent. Some might feel Boston College can realistically offer Duke a challenge, but I can't possibly see a situation where a team that lost to Harvard by 16 upsets the top team in the nation.

Virginia Tech always finds its way to either compete with the Blue Devils or even upset them. As long as it can shut down Erick Green, who is having a monstrous breakout season, Duke should come out victorious.

Georgia Tech has not had a difficult schedule thus far, leading to an impressive record heading into ACC play. The Yellow Jackets are extremely weak on the offensive end, which will not fare well against a high-scoring Duke offense.

North Carolina and NC State are both teams which just simply are not living up to the dubious expectations that were given at the outset of the season. This is very similar to the Tar Heels' dilemma after Tyler Hansbrough and company left and the team re-polished its entire lineup. The departure of four first-round selections is too detrimental to overcome.

As for the Wolf Pack, their lack of experience should also have an effect. Even though they have their top gun in CJ Leslie and they are on a winning streak, the lack of chemistry amongst the players is noticeable.

And lastly, Maryland. Even though the Terps aren't currently in the Top 25, they can be the biggest threat to the Blue Devils. If there is one player in the nation that can stop the elite Mason Plumlee, then it is Alex Len. He possesses the ability to take over the defensive end and the boards.

However, Maryland will need teammates Dez Wells and Nick Faust to aid Len if it wants to upset Duke.