5 Reasons Why Duke Blue Devils Are National Championship Contenders

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5 Reasons Why Duke Blue Devils Are National Championship Contenders
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Duke Blue Devils are off and running to begin the season, which is no shock to anyone who follows college basketball.

For the fifth consecutive season, Mike Krzyzewski's group has started at least 6-0, and this year's edition is looking to capture the Maui Invitational in tonight's showdown with No. 14 Kansas to move its mark to 7-0.

Duke's furious preseason starts all blend together at this point, with only their endings separating them in memory. The Devils have had their fair share of maddeningly premature March exits, a few heartrending losses in the middle of the Big Dance and still fewer forays into Final Four territory. 

Because Duke is so good in the early going, these are the only ways to differentiate one Duke campaign from all the rest. 

This year's team is considered among the nation's best, opening in the polls at sixth, but earns much less respect than its immediate ancestors, which were guided by Duke legends Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer. New, young faces have arrived, and leadership has been passed to players named Plumlee, Dawkins, Kelly and Curry. 

Even the most loyal of Duke fans can't quell their own doubts about this team's chances in 2011-2012.

Every team is just starting to get comfortable and develop chemistry at this point. However, we've seen enough of the Blue Devils (thank you, ESPN) to vaguely ascertain what this team is and how far it can go.

Based on what I've seen, that might be a long way.

Here are five reasons why Duke is, contrary to popular belief, a national championship contender in 2011-12.

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