Duke Basketball: Blue Devils Still Class of ACC Despite Loss to NC State

Joseph SchmidtContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2013

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 12:  An injured Seth Curry #30 of the Duke Blue Devils lies on the floor during a loss to the North Carolina State Wolfpack during play at PNC Arena on January 12, 2013 in Raleigh, North Carolina. North Carolina State won 84-76.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Duke’s first loss of the season to No. 21 N.C. State might result in a shakeup of rankings in the Top 25, but the Blue Devils are still the best team in the ACC.

Seth Curry’s 22 points weren’t enough to push Duke over N.C. State, as the Blue Devils trailed for the entire second half. They eventually pulled within five points, but with 40 seconds on the clock, they were forced to resort to fouling tactics and weren’t able to make it close enough.

The Blue Devils managed to keep up the pace but couldn’t catch a break with their shots, managing just 44.8 percent from the field, well below their season average of 48.1 percent.

The game was evenly matched throughout, with both teams rebounding well and forcing turnovers. But Duke wasn’t able to make their shots.

The N.C. State Wolfpack played tough on both ends of the court, with their win over the No. 1-ranked team in basketball lending credence to their preseason hype.

During ESPN’s broadcast of the game, Dick Vitale said of N.C. State, “This would be their first signature win of the year.”

Keep that in mind when you consider the Blue Devils have defeated Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State this season.

N.C. State is one of the better teams in the ACC, without a doubt. The Wolfpack's early-season losses to Oklahoma State and Michigan knocked them down a couple of notches, but they were still competitive. The win against Duke was much-needed, but it is not enough to propel them to the top, even though they are undefeated in ACC play.

By virtue of notoriety alone, the Blue Devils consistently face some of the best teams in college basketball. Even though N.C. State was a preseason favorite for the ACC, Duke is playing great basketball this season, led by Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee.

If injured senior forward Ryan Kelly bounces back from his foot injury, the Blue Devils have every chance of making a deep run come March.

Duke is set for a rematch against the Wolfpack on February 7. If you’re a betting man (or woman), expect the Blue Devils to play with a vengeance.