Duke Right Now Is a National Title Contender

Mike KlineAnalyst IDecember 20, 2009

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 19:   Jon Scheyer #30 is greeted by Kyle Singler #12, Brian Zoubek #55 and Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils after win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second half of the Aeropostale Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 19, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

If you were to look at all of the early season contenders and pretenders it seems pretty clear to me that Duke is a contender.

Following the Blue Devils domination of a top 25 Gonzaga team, ESPN's Andy Katz wrote that Duke is not a title contender, but could make some noise come March.

What, may I ask Mr. Katz, is the difference?

If you ask me, Duke is playing as good of basketball as just about any team in the nation.

Now there are your obvious exceptions such as Texas and Kentucky, but I haven't seen any team, including those two, that are heads and tails above any other this season.

Sure Kentucky has John Wall, who has been the most electric player, but let’s be real they are beatable. For Katz to say that Duke isn't a title contender is playing caution to the wind because of seasons past.

Everyone knows of the Blue Devils postseason woes over the past three or four years, but this year’s team is quite different than any of those teams.

For one they have experience and veteran leadership which can never be underestimated. They also are pretty talented, if not uber athletic, a constant knock on this year’s team.

This group of Blue Devils have also been playing defense, a Mike Krzyzewski staple at a fairly high level.

Duke has easily handled their early season cupcakes, unlike some other teams either ranked higher or is more highly regarded. Their lone loss came against a pretty good Wisconsin team on their own court. Not a bad loss this early in the year.

So what gives?

Is it the fear of being criticized for sounding like a Dukie, or is it the fear that the Blue Devil's early season success will give way to another late season collapse?

Any team that is in the top 10 with two wins over top 15 teams should at the very least be considered a contender. Lately it seems any team not named Duke would probably be at least mentioned.

Now I don't think Duke is a favorite and personally I'm not sure if they have all the components to make a title run. But I'm not quite ready to completely rule them out just yet.

They are currently 9-1 and have two more games that they should win before heading into ACC play, where they currently should be considered the front runner.

Will Duke win a National Championship this year? On that I'm not so sure, but are they a contender? Yes, they are, regardless of what the "experts" might say.