For the Duke Blue Devils, another successful regular season is complete as we head into the middle of March and the beginning of tournament play.
Duke capped off the season with a series sweep of archrival North Carolina on March 9 to finish with a 27-4 overall record and a 14-4 record in the ACC.
While the Blue Devils came up just short in the race for a regular season conference championship, no other team in the country is hotter than Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils.
Refreshed, revitalized and refocused, Duke sent a clear message to the rest of the nation at season's end that it is the definitive No. 1 team in the land.
With that being said, let's observe the five most substantial facts that we learned about the Blue Devils during the course of the regular season.
In the ACC regular-season finale, Duke completed the season sweep by trouncing North Carolina, 69-53. While doing so, the Blue Devils also became the clear-cut favorite to capture the 2013 national championship.
It was a momentum-building end for the Blue Devils in Chapel Hill, as they will head into tournament play with the best resume in the country and a firm grasp on a No. 1 seed in this year's NCAA tournament.
Offensively, they're arguably the most difficult team in college basketball to defend, with their inside-out attack. The progression of Mason Plumlee has given them a traditional frontcourt player that they have lacked for a number of seasons and places less emphasis on relying solely on the outside shot.
Nevertheless, Plumlee's inside production has allowed the Duke three-point shooters to become more spaced out as they're blistering the nets from beyond the arc at a 42.8 percent clip—which ranks them second in the country.
On the defensive end, they have played much more inspired this season than in the previous year, which at times was insufferable to watch.
But above all else, their confidence and team chemistry is at an all-time high.
And with that, the Blue Devils have methodically returned to playing their A-game with a fifth national championship in school history on the horizon.
What if Ryan Kelly didn't injure his right foot? What if he did play for the entirety of the ACC season?
The answer to both questions is synonymous.
He would've been a leading candidate for ACC Player of the Year.
Kelly made his highly anticipated return to the Duke lineup in the rematch against the Miami Hurricanes on March 2. It was in that matchup where he sent an emphatic statement to not only the ACC but the rest of the country by scoring a career-high 36 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-9 from three-point range, while willing the Blue Devils to a 79-76 victory.
Despite ending the regular season playing in only five conference games, the 6'11" forward averaged 19.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while once again demonstrating his persistent ability in stretching an opposing defense with his inside-out style of play. His return also allowed the Duke offense to be more spread out in its attack, which becomes an even more challenging task for the competition.
However, the prodigious stat to take into account regarding Kelly is that Duke finished the regular season with an unblemished 18-0 record.
His return has revitalized the Blue Devils at the most opportune time, as they are currently playing their best basketball since the first 15 games of the season.
And it sets up perfectly for Duke to reach the Final Four for the second time in the last four years.
If you've ever had the opportunity to visit Cameron Indoor Stadium and look up into the rafters at the assembly of Duke's four national championship banners, you will begin to take a journey down memory lane.
Along that ride, you will quickly discover the secret behind each of those four special seasons that led Duke to championship glory.
Distinguished point guard play.
Bobby Hurley, considered to be one of the best point guards of all time, led the Blue Devils to back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992. Jason Williams, a dynamic scorer, helped give Duke its third title 10 years later in 2001. And Jon Scheyer, who was recruited primarily as a shooting guard in high school, commanded the position in his senior season as he guided the Blue Devils to their fourth title in 2010.
Now, it is sophomore Quinn Cook's turn.
As we've learned over the course of the season, Duke is not just a team reliant on its senior trio. The improvement that Cook has made from a year ago has been superb not only for himself, but for the success of this Duke team.
He is fourth on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game, second in minutes played at 33.8 and is second in the ACC with a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Like the championship-winning point guards before him, consistency was crucial, especially come tournament time.
If Cook is able to maintain a level of persistence for Duke over the course of this year's NCAA tournament and lead the Blue Devils to its fifth title, his name will be forever connected alongside the greats that came before him.
Of the 347 Division I schools in college basketball, it has been established that no other team possesses a more superior trio of players than Duke.
The senior triad of Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee has propelled Duke into the upper echelon of teams that are considered to be championship-caliber.
They have combined to average 62 percent of the team's total scoring this season, as all three players average well over 14 points per game.
However, the experience that each player has compiled throughout their college careers is irreplaceable.
During the 2009-10 season, they were a part of Duke's fourth title run. Curry had transferred from Liberty and was forced to sit out due to NCAA rules, while Kelly and Plumlee averaged 20.6 minutes between them.
But unlike any other cohesive unit, these players know the road to a national title.
And that type of togetherness and competence could be the deciding factor in one of the most anticipated NCAA tournaments in recent memory.
Despite narrowly missing out on a share of the ACC regular-season crown, Duke will now shift its focus toward capturing the ACC tournament, which begins on March 14.
Locked in as the No. 2 seed in the tournament, the Blue Devils will enter with a great chance to add to their conference-leading total by winning a 20th tournament championship and 11th in the last 15 years.
Since 1999, the ACC tournament has been popularly recognized as the "Duke Invitational."
With Duke currently clicking on all cylinders, there is no reason why the Blue Devils will not find themselves hoisting another championship trophy and cutting down the nets in Greensboro at the conclusion of this year's event.