The Duke Blue Devils may have the offense to make a deep run in the 2013 NCAA tournament, but their defense (or lack thereof) will see them fall short of the national title.
It's not a coincidence that the Blue Devils ranked 166th in the nation in opponents' field-goal percentage last season (via TeamRankings.com) and ended up falling to Lehigh in the Round of 64, getting blown up by C.J. McCollum in the process.
It's also not a coincidence that they ranked in the top 35 in opponents' field-goal percentage when they were national champions in 2010 and reached the Sweet 16 in 2011.
Duke (27-5, 14-4 ACC) is coming off a 83-74 loss to unranked Maryland in the ACC tournament. In that game, the Blue Devils allowed the Terrapins to go 26-of-51 from the floor, including 8-of-20 from downtown.
Duke also had a letdown in the 73-68 loss to Virginia on Feb. 28. Mike Krzyzewski's squad allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 46 percent from the field. Virginia junior guard Joe Harris dropped 36 points on 12-of-20 shooting. Junior forward Akil Mitchell added 19 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
The Blue Devils rank 114th in the nation in opponents' field-goal percentage this season. The recent losses to Maryland and Virginia weren't flukes, but rather clear signs of the team's struggles on defense.
Krzyzewski is obviously one of the greatest coaches in history. I wouldn't put it past him to lead the Blue Devils to a deep run in the tournament this season. But you can only do so much with the defense Duke has exhibited.
Barring a miraculous turnaround on that side of the floor, the Blue Devils won't make it to the national championship game. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't make it to the Final Four.