The Duke Blue Devils Will Exit Early This March

Randy JacksonContributor IFebruary 10, 2010

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils yells from the bench against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first 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

Sorry Duke fans, the Blue Devils will be bounced out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet Sixteen.

While Duke may be ranked No. 7 in the nation going into their battle against North Carolina, this is not a dominant Blue Devils team of years past.

A win against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill shifted the balance of power in this great rivalry back towards Duke's side, but it still does not prove that Duke is an elite team.

Currently, Duke stands atop the ACC; however, this ranking comes not because Duke is a top team, but because this year's ACC is below average.

North Carolina is not the team that we have grown accustomed to, but it is a team in transition; Clemson and Wake Forest have also been disappointing coming out of the ACC.

While Duke does have key wins against Connecticut and Gonzaga on neutral venues, they also have road losses to North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, and Wisconsin—not to mention the beating they took against Georgetown.

They were completely outplayed by the Hoyas and did not look like a team that deserved to be in the top 10.

For Mike Krzyzewski, Duke's struggles on the road are a troubling trend, and it must be corrected come tournament time.

While Duke has handled Clemson and Boston College, they have yet to play Maryland, the No. 2 team in the ACC. Their two upcoming games against the Terps will be a test of how good Duke really is.

Aside from their record, one must consider the talent the Blue Devils possess.

This year's Blue Devils rely mainly on three players: Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and All-American candidate Jon Scheyer.

All three average above 15 points a game, but out of the three, Smith is the only one who possesses the ability to get to the hoop and create for himself. The ability to create shots against tough defenses is key in March—not something that the Blue Devils have the ability to do.

The Blue Devils are a perimeter team, and if Singler and Scheyer are not hitting their shots, Duke could be primed for an early upset.

Aside from the big three, Duke has a highly mediocre team.

Their inside game could hurt them come March, as they have no top low-post players.  Miles Plumlee, Lance Thomas, and Brian Zoubek make up a below-average front line and could be exploited by premier big men like Cole Aldrich or Arinze Onuaku in March.

Another problem with Krzyewski's squad is their lack of athleticism.

While it would be silly to suggest that white players are not as good as black players, one must truly take a look at race on the Duke team.

Out of 12 players on the Duke roster who have played all season, only three are black. In today's game, that is an uncanny white player to black player ratio, and I can't think of any other top program that only has three black players on their squad.

It raises the question, why are the top black players passing up on Duke? Has Coach K, one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, lost his edge?

Because of their lack of depth, their poor inside game, and their lack of athleticism, this Duke squad is undeserving of their high ranking and will be exploited come tournament time.