The Duke Blue Devils have absolutely no reason to miss out on a No. 1 seed this season in the NCAA tournament. After beating North Carolina on Wednesday evening, the schedule is quite favorable for the Blue Devils down the stretch.
Sure, Duke has a date with No. 3 Miami at home and closes the season by traveling to Chapel Hill to play the Tar Heels once again, but Duke should split those contests at the worst and should win its five other games in the league.
From there, all the Blue Devils likely need to do to earn a top seed in the tournament is reach the finals or possibly even semifinals of the ACC tournament.
In a year when the league is pretty weak, that shouldn't be too difficult to do.
Duke is too talented to suddenly fold down the stretch and blow a golden opportunity. Mason Plumlee is one of the most dominant post players in the country, averaging 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Seth Curry has been solid on the outside, averaging 16.5 points per game.
Ryan Kelly, Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson, Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston ensure that Duke goes eight deep—certainly not the greatest depth in the world, but enough to hold up for a long tourney run.
With five players averaging double-digit points per game, Duke offers a versatile, multi-pronged attack.
Still, you have to wonder if Duke might be slightly overrated. Yes, at 22-2 the team has earned its No. 2 ranking. However, the ACC is really down this year, with just two ranked teams and the possibility of only getting four or five teams into the tournament.
Heck, North Carolina might find itself outside of the The Dance this year. Can you imagine?
Against stiffer competition or a team that really bangs on the boards—Duke is 155th in the nation in rebounding per game—you have to question if the Blue Devils would hold up.
Then again, the team did beat Louisville and Ohio State in non-conference play—both games at home, mind you—so you have to give Duke credit there.
Duke will earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tourney.
Either way, the tournament is simply too crazy and hard to predict. The real goal for Duke right now will be assuring that it earns a No. 1 seed. A regular-season title in the ACC might be out of reach—and honestly, the ACC tournament won't be that important for the team—but finishing the season winning six of seven should be enough to get Duke a top seed.
There's no reason for Duke to fail on accomplishing that goal. After taking down rival UNC, the Blue Devils are on their way.