From One Elitist Duke Fan to Another

Travis MillerAnalyst IDecember 2, 2008

If you're a Big 10 fan and think you can get through this article without reaching through your monitor and smacking me in the face, go grab something soft just in case, like a pillow.

This way you have something to punch without hurting yourself—or simply use it to muffle your screaming.

Got it? Good.

Being a Duke fan in early December is like being a USC fan (pardon my presumptuous nature) when the Rose Bowl comes around each year.

"We have to play someone from the Big 10, AGAIN?!"

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little. The Big 10 isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, especially this year, but I'm just getting a little bored with the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.

I know Indiana knocked Duke out of the Big Dance in 2002, Michigan St. burned us in 2005, and Purdue even had a regular season victory over the Blue Devils in '03, so save the hate.

I'd just really like to see things mixed up a little.

10-0 in the history of the Challenge will do that to you.

As a Duke fan, I come from the school of dominant defense complemented by a proficient offense. Questionable recruiting classes, Greg Paulus, and no inside game have hindered the Dukies the last few years, but matched up against the Big 10, it's just not fair this early in any season (Duke in March lately is kind of like the Mets in September, so I'm just talking early season here).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Big 10 teams have similar styles of play in both football and basketball: There is a huge focus on controlling the clock and playing solid defense.

Yeah, defense wins championships, but let's be honest. The Big 10's best defense can't stop the nation's top offenses. Game plans seem to conform to winning conference games, not on a national level.

That's why the Big 10 get so much disrespect in college football, and why I'm hatin' on it right now.

My first example is North Carolina's title run in March of 2005. The Tar Heels beat FOUR Big 10 teams en route to the title, including Illinois, which came into the game 37-1, but still wasn't the favorite.

Wisconsin gave the Heels a good game in the Elite Eight, but at 88-82, I can just look at the score and tell you Carolina controlled the tempo of that game, not the Badgers.

Last year, Wisconsin was a Sweet 16 team, which is much more than I can say about Duke, but it ran into Davidson, a high-scoring team. The Badgers couldn't keep up and lost the game by 17.

Earlier last season, Wisconsin came into Cameron Indoor Stadium and lost by 24. Granted, it would have been closer if the game was played at the Kohl Center, but it still would have been a double-digit win.

Bo Ryan is a great coach, but the only championships Big 10 teams will be winning with such a style of play is a conference championship.

But hey, maybe that's acceptable in the central United States.

Before it seems as though I buried my lead, I'll get back to my point.

ESPN has the ACC-Big 10 Challenge locked up for a few more years, but after that, I'd love to see some other conferences get in on the love.

How about the winning conference stays in and faces a new conference the next season?

Of course, things won't always match up (that's right, Big East, I'm talking about you and your monstrous 16-team conference), but the ACC and the Big 10 never match up, either. There's always been a team sitting out.

This would also solve other problems, such as the nation's top teams taking an easy route to conference play.

That's a not-so-subtle shot at Louisville, which probably has a couple of high school teams scratched in there after an embarrassing loss to Western Kentucky.

Rick Pitino, of all people, should know not testing your team early only hurts you in the long run.

As a Duke fan, I'd hate to see UConn this early in the season, since we can NEVER beat the Huskies, but it would be great for a team like this year's Blue Devils to suffer that kind of stomping early on.

The team would learn humility, and with a coach like Mike Krzyzewski, would learn its each and every weakness.

Duke assisted on half of its field goals tonight, and had three more turnovers than assists. I'd like to see improvement there, but I'll let this one slide considering how good Purdue's defense is.

The Blue Devils shot 36-percent from downtown, 77-percent from the line, and out-rebounded the Boilermakers 44-26. That's a solid line and I'll certainly take it. Especially the rebounds. Who did Duke out-rebound last season?

I'm looking at games against Xavier and Davidson before ACC conference play really gets going. No team WANTS to lose, and Duke certainly isn't running the table in-conference this season, so they'll have their fair share of losses come March, but if either of those games go down to the wire, it won't be the end of the world.