Duke Blue Devils: Capable of More Than the ACC Title?

The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IMarch 15, 2010

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 06:  Lance Thomas #42 celebrates with teammate Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils during their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 6, 2010 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Duke won the ACC Championship on Sunday and landed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This success does not come as a surprise to Blue Devils fans, though. Duke has owned the ACC Tournament as of late, winning 9 of the last 12, and has appeared in the finals 12 of the last 14 years.

However, despite all the ACC success, Coach K’s teams have struggled as of late in the NCAA Tournament. Duke has not made it past the Sweet 16 since 2004 and has not won a national championship since 2001.

Now, most any program in the country would take that measure of success, but not Duke. Not when your rival has celebrated two national titles just eight miles away from you in that span.

This Duke team has solved one of its defensive woes of the past with the improvement of seven-footer Brian Zoubek and added depth with Mason Plumlee on the inside.

But the Blue Devils still lack overall athleticism in defending the perimeter and rely heavily on three players for scoring.

The ACC Champions should have a relatively easy first two rounds, but the big test could come in the Sweet 16 or in the Elite Eight with a rematch against Villanova. The Wildcats' explosive guards throttled Duke last year in the Sweet 16.

ACC title are always a goal in Durham, but can Duke take that next step towards a Final Four, or even a national championship, this year?