All of the recent and some not-so-recent talk about the Duke Blue Devils' chance for an undefeated season, or at least an undefeated ACC slate, will mercifully come to end.
The Blue Devils lost on the road to the Florida State Seminoles last night, ending their 25-game winning streak and their quest for a perfect season.
First of all, it was going to happen. Kyrie Irving or no Kyrie Irving.
Yes, with him in the lineup, last night quite possibly could have been a different story. But it would have been another night, in another city, in another stadium not named Cameron.
The rest of the ACC certainly took notice. They probably noticed when a developing Maryland team hung with Duke on Sunday. They are most likely eager to catch Duke in the midst of its losing streak.
Right. The fans are naturally disappointed, and the players, are, too. However, the disappointment has likely passed already.
Coach K was likely purposeful in his post-game address, emphasizing the importance of intensity and determination, especially on the road. Internally, he likely did a little fist pump—no, several BIG fist pumps.
This streak was going to become a distraction, if talk about it had not already seeped into the players' thoughts. And the pressure to continue said streak was only going to mount.
This team would have no idea how good it could be if most of what they thought or dreamed of revolved around having an undefeated season.
Now, they come back to work with more resolve, knowing that they are not invincible. They come back with a renewed sense of purpose and focus on their goal of becoming a better team and competing for a national championship.
So what does this mean for the rest of the ACC?
First, that they will all continue to battle for second place in the conference. Duke's loss provides teams like North Carolina, Virginia Tech and, dare I say it, North Carolina State and Boston College, with some motivation and sense that they can compete with Duke.
For Florida State, it is a huge resume-building win for a team that lost to Auburn (yes, the team that scored SIX POINTS in the first half of its last game) about a week ago.
For Duke, it means they need to find some interior answers or, in other words, find some ways to get their bigs involved.
Really, though, all it means is that as much or more than in any sport, it is really difficult to play conference games on the road.
So before anyone gets too giddy, Duke is still the team to beat.
They won't be ranked No. 1 next week and won't be until the rest of the unbeatens lose, but they are the team to beat. Oh yeah, and their next opponent, Virginia, needn't be too excited.
He won't say it, but Coach K probably feels that this is the best thing that could happen at this juncture of the season.
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