The Duke Blue Devils have put together another great season and are riding a three-game win streak as we hit the home stretch of the season. They still have a few tough games ahead, including two contests with North Carolina and a date with the nation's No. 1 team, the Syracuse Orange.
In looking at where Duke sits in the ACC standings, each of these games are of great importance as the regular season winds down, although some are clearly more important than others.
The Blue Devils are currently 20-5, and will need to keep up their winning ways if they want to claw their way to the top of conference. They're currently right behind UVA in third place.
Their upcoming game with 'Cuse is an especially intriguing matchup as they almost knocked off the Orange in their last meeting. Now that Duke will be on its home court, it may be able to do what no one else has done this season—beat Syracuse.
@ Georgia Tech, Feb. 18th
The Blue Devils have won eight of their last nine games and will need to continue that momentum Tuesday night when they take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Duke handled GT with general ease the last time these two met (won 79-57) and should be able to do the same this time around.
While this shouldn't be a terribly tough game for them, the Blue Devils must be wary of an upset. A loss at this stage of the game would greatly hurt their chances for winning the conference.
A loss to the Yellow Jackets would also allow the teams behind them to inch closer, possibly allowing them to leapfrog Duke if they can string together a couple of wins. Pittsburgh (20-6) and North Carolina (18-7) aren't far behind the Blue Devils, which puts even more pressure on Mike Kryzyzewski's team to keep the winning going.
Losing to Georgia Tech would put Duke at 20-6, and would push them another step back in the ACC, making a win all that more vital.
vs. Syracuse, Feb. 22nd
Syracuse has been a dominant team this season to say the least, although Duke almost knocked it off the throne the last time these teams met. It was a 91-89 heartbreaking overtime loss for the Blue Devils, but it did show that they are good enough to beat the Orange.
Duke has been fighting tooth and nail to climb up the standings and would really help itself with a win against 'Cuse. Conversely, the Orange could put an end to Duke's hopes for a conference title with a victory.
Let's keep in mind that the last time these two met they were playing at Syracuse's home court, whereas this time they'll be at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke has been very tough to stop at Cameron Indoor this year, and the home atmosphere could be what it needs to top the Orange.
This would be a huge victory for the Blue Devils if they can pull it off.
@ North Carolina, March 8th
North Carolina will be the end of Duke's regular season, and could be the biggest game of the year.
Who will be Duke's biggest test the rest of the season?
Given their inconsistent play this season, UNC may be playing for a trip to the tournament, in which case Duke could foil their plans and send them home early.
Duke will undoubtedly do some more damage before this season's over, whether they make it to the top of the ACC standings or not.