Blue Devils impress in first public viewing

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Duke’s team looked good at Countdown to Craziness on Friday night. Really good. There’s good reason why this team full of almost entirely new players was projected as the No. 1 team in the nation when the USA Today Coaches Poll came out. They’re stacked at nearly every position, have five-star McDonald’s All-Americans all over the court and have the winningest head coach of all time in NCAA Div. I men’s basketball, but they are very, very young. Eleven of their 13 scholarship players are freshmen or sophomores, and seven of them have never played a college basketball game. Whether Grayson Allen, the lone captain, and the coaching staff are able to bring the young guys along and get them adjusted to the college basketball level will go a long way in determining how far the team will go in the NCAA tournament.

Duke was picked as ACC preseason favorites today by the media who attended ACC Operation Basketball. The reigning champions tallied 57 first-place votes, 50 more than second place North Carolina. Notre Dame, Miami and Louisville rounded out the top five.

The nation’s top-ranked recruit in last year’s class is on Duke’s roster (stop me if you’ve heard that before) and is projected by the media to finish as the conference’s rookie of the year. Despite skipping his senior year of high school, Bagley retained his No. 1 ranking after moving up from the 2018 class and enters as one of the favorites to be the first pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.

Allen missed out on ACC Preseason Player of the Year by 40 votes to Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson. The senior guard tied with UNC’s Joel Berry for second place with nine votes, while Bagley tallied 26 votes as the lone freshman picked to be on the first team.

When Duke takes the floor for its first contest against a different opponent on Friday night, they will feature four freshmen along with senior Grayson Allen. Trevon Duval (point guard), Gary Trent (small forward), Marvin Bagley (power forward) and Wendell Carter (center) is a young but extremely talented lineup and will give the Blue Devils a significant advantage in talent over reigning Div. II national champion Northwest Missouri State.
Coming off the bench will be sophomore center Marques Bolden and power forward Javin DeLaurier, who were pegged by Coach K to be two of the four players 6-foot-9 or taller that will be featured in Duke’s top seven rotation players.
The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, which can be difficult to find depending on your TV provider.

Duke’s second four games of the season were just as bad as their first four games were good, and the Blue Devils are now staring at the real possibility of missing a bowl game for the second consecutive season. The offensive production has fallen off a cliff minus a few flashes here and there, the defense is starting to look worn down after spending so much time on the field due to numerous three-and-outs by the offense and the special teams unit has been spectacularly unimpressive in nearly all areas.
What was looking so promising for Duke after a 4-0 start now has observers of the program questioning whether it is in danger of returning to the levels it was at before David Cutcliffe arrived 10 years ago. Barring a minor miracle this weekend when the team travels to Blacksburg to take on the No. 13-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, Duke will be 4-5 heading in to a much-needed bye week. Finding two more wins on the remaining schedule (at Army, vs Georgia Tech and at Wake Forest) is not a slam dunk.
Missing out on bowl games in two consecutive seasons would be a monster disappointment to a Duke program that had won 27 games in the three years prior.