Duke Basketball: 10 Reasons the Blue Devils Could Go Undefeated in 2011-12

Matt CoanCorrespondent IIJune 6, 2011

Duke Basketball: 10 Reasons the Blue Devils Could Go Undefeated in 2011-12

0 of 10

    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, Nor
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The Duke Blue Devils men's basketball program seems to never have a down year.

    After a great season last year where they finished 32-5 overall and 13-3 in the ACC, they have the second-best recruiting class in the nation. While they are losing Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith to the NBA, they have a new stock of elite talent coming in ready to play.

    But is there any chance at an undefeated season this year?

    Maybe.

    Here is a list of 10 reasons why the Duke Blue Devils could go undefeated this upcoming season.

10. Seth Curry

1 of 10

    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Seth Curry #30 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North C
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Curry is coming off a solid first season at Duke where he averaged nine points and two rebounds per game. He gained some important experience, and after a year in the Duke system, Curry should come back even better in his second year.

    Curry will have to take big roles within the offense and also step up as a team leader, as the Blue Devils have many young players who will have to play big parts.

9. Mason Plumlee

2 of 10

    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts in the first half while taking on the Hampton Pirates during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 18, 2011 in Charlotte
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee had a very good season last year at Duke, and like Curry, will make a big improvement in his game this season.

    Plumlee is a big body in the paint and will have to dominate some games and stretches if Duke wants to have success.

    Plumlee averaged seven points, eight rebounds, and almost two blocks a game last year and I see him raising those numbers to a 10 and 10 double double machine.

8. Andre Dawkins

3 of 10

    GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 13:  Andre Dawkins #20 of the Duke Blue Devils claps while playing against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half in the championship game of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 1
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Andre Dawkins, another projected starter for Duke, will also need to take big steps in improving his game this season. 

    Dawkins is a great outside shooter and will help Duke spread the floor with his three-point shot and open up the offense for the rest of the team.

    If Dawkins can turn into a great three-point shooter, he will be able to carry the team in games where the offense isn't working as well and help Duke get wins it normally wouldn't be able to get.

7. Austin Rivers

4 of 10

    Rivers is part of the great recruiting class Duke had this recruiting season, and while he is young, he is ready to make in impact from the start of the year.

    Rivers will probably end up a starter and is the future of Duke basketball. 

    With Rivers in the starting lineup, Duke will have another threat on offense who can help the Blue Devils win games this season.

6. Mike Gbinije and Alex Murphy

5 of 10

    Murphy and Gbinije will play big roles coming off the bench for the Blue Devils.

    Both small forwards will be part of a stacked second unit that gives Duke the depth it will need to win.

    If just one of these young prospects ends up having a great season, Duke will be in a good place come tournament time.

5. Depth of the Bench

6 of 10

    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Kyle Singler #12, Seth Curry #30, Ryan Kelly #34 and Miles Plumlee #21 of the Duke Blue Devils look on from the bench against the Arizona Wildcats during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at
    Harry How/Getty Images

    This year's Duke team is deep and stacked at many positions.

    Depth is a key part of a long season filled with injuries and struggles, and Duke's depth will need to play a large role if the Blue Devils are going to have a successful season.

    Duke has a full second unit that could be a successful starting team in college basketball, and while most are young, inexperienced players, they all are extremely talented and will be huge for Duke this season.

4. Ryan Kelly

7 of 10

    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Ryan Kelly #34 of the Duke Blue Devils looses control against Kevin Parrom #3 of the Arizona Wildcats during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Kelly could be the second big man in the starting lineup this year for Duke, and pairing him with Mason Plumlee should make for a great rebounding tandem that should control the paint all season for Duke on the offensive and defensive ends.

    Kelly averaged six points and four rebounds for Duke last season in sparing minutes, and with more time on the court, his numbers will get better.

    Kelly will mainly have to protect the rim and paint on defense and get rebounds, since most of the scoring load will be handled by other starters.

3. The Strength of the ACC

8 of 10

    NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 27:  Members of the Kentucky Wildcats band, perform during their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the east regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Prudential Center on March 27, 2011 in Newark, New Jer
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The ACC won't be as dominant this year as it has in the past, and that will make for a great opportunity for Duke to dominate the conference.

    UNC won't be the powerhouse it usually is, and the ACC is wide open for Duke to take control.

    As long as Duke can avoid upsets against some tougher conference members, it should be able to get close to going undefeated in the ACC.

2. Duke Is the Best Team in the Conference

9 of 10

    INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 05:  A fan of the Duke Blue Devils supports his team against the Butler Bulldogs during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Duke won 61-5
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Duke is already the best team in the ACC.

    Duke lost the ACC regular-season title to UNC last year, but a team re-stocked with talent should be able to retake the crown it lost late last season.

    This conference is Duke's to lose, and if everything goes right, it should win come season's end.

1. Coach K

10 of 10

    GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 13:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils cuts down the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 75-58 in the championship game of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 13
    Jaime L. Mikle/Getty Images

    Any talented team coached and led by Mike Krzyzewski has a shot at winning it all and going undefeated.

    Arguably the greatest basketball coach of all time, Coach K will lead this young group of talented players and help them reach their full potential.

    If these players end up being as good as scouts say, Duke is in for a long run of dominance and could not only go undefeated next season but win numerous national titles.