They can win it all, steal the spotlight in the NCAA tourney, and shimmer as the traditional team in college hoops reliving a proverbial convention.
Such is the rebirth of the Duke Blue Devils, a prominent program that is used to prevailing in March and sparking a dynasty, perhaps the most distinguished dynasty in all of sports.
Every now and then, Duke is viewed as an inferior team. But rarely are the Blue Devils downgraded, a demanding program vowing success and reverence each season. If there’s a down season, it’s a damned shame to an athletic program expecting to clinch a No. 1 seed and advance to the Final Four.
With all the ignominy in recent memory, which delayed euphoria, Duke wasn’t the hottest team entering the tournament, nor the most talented. What’s seen at this point is a Duke rebirth, turning into a ravishing nuisance as a No. 1 seed in the toughest region.
The good news is the Blue Devils are playing their best basketball in a long time. But the bad news is they’ll have to confront gritty bouts within a neutral site by staying composed and elevating their mojo.
For all the endless debates about Duke receiving the third overall No. 1 seed, most failed to realize that the Blue Devils are vulnerable of suffering a disheartening exit. It’s appealing to see whether Duke is the team to be reckoned with in the competitive, tight, and tense South Regional.
Winners of four consecutive games, including 12 of their last 13 games after a troubling January, the Blue Devils are favored to survive a significant fight. Therefore, a loss would come as no surprise, especially when probably facing two Big East powerhouses.
Being in a weaker ACC conference, where Duke struggled on the road, they haven’t really matched up against tougher teams from the Big East, arguably the stoutest conference in college hoops.
Meanwhile, their ripple effect is the difference of late, persuading the people of Durham, North Carolina to take pleasure in the thrilling return to prestige. The renewal of Duke is a symbol of good fortune after winning its conference title and pummeling in-state rival North Carolina, who missed the tournament, to take over bragging rights.
Turns out Duke is the feel-good story finding new life on Tobacco Road, a beginning to a usual dynasty, if the Blue Devils advance through all the obstacles expected to create anguish.
Admittedly, they also have a great coach conducting the most prestigious program in college sports. The brilliancy of much-respected and winningest coach Mike Krzyzewski has kept an admirable athletic program intact, even though a rebuilding stage placed a stranglehold on and perturbed an entire population devoted to basketball.
Other than grooming and influencing talented players to commit, he has earned much of his credibility after installing a defense-oriented style and a winning personality. That said, much of the players are comfortable playing within his coaching system, taught to implement unselfishness and teamwork.
If there’s one team being overexposed and anointed roughly in the field of 64 teams, it’s not Duke, the hottest team excelling at perfect timing. As a team the Blue Devils aren’t worth ignoring, led by the highest-scoring trio in the nation.
If you’ve paid close attention, you’ve seen senior guard Jon Scheyer fire scorching shots. You’ve seen Nolan Smith fly to the line and create ideal ball movement. You’ve seen Kyle Singler have the best season of his collegiate career. You’ve also seen the emergence and tallness of Miles and Mason Plumlee disrupt opposing teams' interior games.
After winning for a decade, it’s again a glance at familiarity in which Duke has an almighty origin, established to capture an immediate objective the next three weeks.
More startling than themselves are Villanova, Duke’s biggest threat during a magical surge, as well as the Louisville Cardinals. That’s hard to predict when the Wildcats are erratic, but they rode an 11-game winning streak earlier in the season. If Duke were to meet Louisville in the second round, it’s understandable the contest would generate hype as Coach K meets Rick Pitino, the hippest coach around.
Lots of people think this is Duke’s year. Certainly, the team mascot assumes the same wearing tape on his forehead that reads, “WE’RE BAAACCK!”
Maybe there’s some truth to that.