Duke has a lot of talent and some veteran leadership but is it enough to help them go undefeated?
Duke basketball fans are understandably excited, but they would do well to calm down after the Blue Devils' 8-0 start.
The season is young and Duke, the nation's top ranked team, is coming off a brutal stretch having played and beaten the No. 4, No. 6 and a preseason Top 25 team in the span of two weeks.
Still, all this talk about going undefeated and perfect seasons is way too premature; even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has said as much.
He said that teams that go undefeated are old and talented. This Duke team is certainly the latter but not the former.
The Blue Devils got a test against Michigan State, which wasn't afraid to figuratively punch Duke in the gut right from the tip.
They were also recently pushed by a gutsy Butler team who wasn't afraid and didn't back down from Duke. The ESPN headline might have declared "Duke Rips Butler," but in actuality if Shelven Mack didn't go down with leg cramps this could have been a much different game.
After all, Butler led late into the second half.
Still you can't play the what-if game and get any real answers. Right now Duke is undefeated, but even the most optimistic fans should see that the odds are against them.
Will Duke go undefeated?
Much better teams than Duke have not managed to go undefeated. The last undefeated team was Indiana 35 years ago.
The Blue Devils clearly have weaknesses. For starters, their rebounding at times has been suspect. Besides the play of Mason Plumlee, no other interior player for Duke has had a huge impact.
Kyle Singer certainly has done well, but he doesn't play strictly down low.
Against Butler, Duke managed to outrebound the Bulldogs, but at times it seemed as if the Blue Devils were just conceding the rebound after quick shots on the offensive end...which leads to another concern.
Duke also settled for a lot of jump shots early in the possessions. Butler took away the transition game for stretches at a time. They need to be much more patient in their half-court sets.
Make no mistake, Duke is a very good team. Kyrie Irving is the real deal at point guard, and Nolan Smith and Singler provide excellent leadership and skill to a deep, perimeter-oriented team.
That being said, anyone who thinks Duke goes undefeated—even in a down year for the ACC—has been wearing the Royal Blue-colored glasses a bit too long.
That isn't to say it can't happen. It's a testament to parity, talent and how much everyone always wants to beat Duke.
Going undefeated isn't something that can be considered a given, even as good as the Blue Devils currently are.