Under the watchful eye of Olympic gold medalist Coach Mike Krzyzwekski, the Duke basketball team has begun the 2008-2009 season in hopes of separating itself from March failures the past few seasons.
This season does seem a little different, and not just because of the gold hanging from Coach K's neck. They return four of five starters. The problem is that unlike UNC's returning starters, Duke players came back because they wanted to, not because they weren't going to be high enough NBA draft picks.
Currently ranked eighth in the AP poll and fifth in the ESPN poll, this Duke team will coast through November and December before things get hellish.
January 7: Davidson
This seemingly meaningless cupcake game has suddenly become quite interesting due to the emergence of Stephen Curry. Davidson is ranked 20th only because of Curry who still doesn't weigh more than 160 pounds. But with the graduation of Duke's most athletic player, DeMarcus Nelson, who will be charged with the task of slowing Curry?
January 10: @ Florida State
Duke hates playing in Tallahassee, real talk (to quote R. Kelly). This is three days after playing Davidson, the very next game on their schedule, and the first ACC road game, no less. This is the essence of a trap game.
January 17: Georgetown
Pre-measuring stick game to the real measuring stick game against the NBA team from Chapel Thrill. Georgetown will have played Pitt and Connecticut at this point in the season, meaning they'll be battle tested whereas this will be Duke's first game against a talented team.
February 11: North Carolina
I don't care how many injuries North Carolina players get. If they aren't beating teams by 20 points, it doesn't count as a win. Duke could be undefeated or have a one to two loss record entering this game, which will be the measuring stick for the regular season. If they win or at the very least play well at home against the NBA Tar Heels, they can spring board off for the remainder of the season.
February 15: @ Boston College
Might as well rename it Florida State of the North. Duke hates playing at Boston College, real talk. The buffoonery and thuggery awarded to J.J. Redick and friends may be a fading memory for some but not for Paulus and Company. Like the Davidson game, Duke must contain an explosive guard in Tyrese Rice, who could care less that the three point line was moved back.
March 8: @ North Carolina
To quote a Rece Davis article today, "Revenge has been described by Homer as 'sweeter far than flowing honey'." Dicky V will be going bananas over how great each team is, and the tradition, and the rivalry, and his desire to fulfill all sexual demands of either coach. Bottom line this game means nothing to North Carolina players. If their players cared about the school and the team, then three of them wouldn't have tried to leave for the NBA.
All their fans expect is a national championship. A regular season ACC championship is nothing more than cute.
A win for Duke in this game gives great momentum heading into the ACC tournament, March Madness, and the 2009 season, because everybody but Paulus is coming back for Duke and everybody including the towel boy is leaving North Carolina.