Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Seniors Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee were all a part of Duke's last championship in 2010. While Curry was in a redshirt year after transferring from Liberty University, and both Kelly and Plumlee were not counted upon as vital contributors in their freshman seasons, all three players have experienced the journey towards the ultimate prize in college basketball.
Fast forward three years later.
Duke is in the middle of another outstanding season, with a 19-2 overall record, and has earned the label as one of the favorites to reach this year's Final Four while the three senior leaders have been tremendous thus far.
Mason Plumlee has placed himself in a comfortable position for Naismith College Player of the Year with his play this season. He is currently averaging a team-leading double-double with 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. His overall improvement has given the Blue Devils that dominant inside presence that they've lacked for a number of seasons.
One of the most lethal three-point threats in the nation, Seth Curry has been remarkable for Duke in his senior year. Despite playing the entire season with a nagging right shin injury, it has not slowed Curry's production on the offensive end down. He is second in scoring for the Blue Devils with 16.3 points per game while shooting 43 percent from three.
Before re-injuring his right foot on January 8—the same foot that cost him the final three games of last season—Ryan Kelly provided Duke with his irreplaceable ability to stretch an opposing defense. The versatile 6'11" forward was connecting on 52 percent of his three-point shots at the time of his injury while averaging 13.4 points per game. His loss, however, has been more detrimental to the Duke defense.
In the Blue Devils' last six games without Kelly, they are allowing 1.03 points per possession. While a timetable for his return has not been announced, it is highly likely that he will return just prior to the beginning of the ACC Tournament.
With all three players on the floor, Duke is as good as anybody in the country. Their leadership qualities, invaluable experience and stellar play separate the Blue Devils from the rest of the nation and position them in a favorable role as a top contender for their fifth national title.