Is Duke the Real Deal?

Michael Kneuer

The Duke Blue Devils are coming off a big win at home against the 8th ranked team in the country, Florida State Seminoles. The Blue Devils defeated the Seminoles 70-65 on Monday night, Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire led the way for Duke with 13 points each. Duke shot 45 percent from the field, 41percent from downtown, and 77 percent from the charity stripe, while Florida State shot a miserable 38 percent from the field, 17 percent from three point land, and 60 percent from the free throw line. This is now two games in a row that teams have shot an awful free throw percentage against Duke. In Duke’s last game against their biggest rival, North Carolina Tar Heels struggled down the stretch and allowed to Duke to make a late game run and evidently a miracle comeback. Tre Jones intentionally missed a free and then hit an incredible buzzer beating shot to send it to overtime, where Tre Jones went to the free throw line with 6.6 seconds left. Jones knocked down the first. Jones missed the second, but luck sided with the Devils. Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. tipped the ball out past the three point line where Tre Jones grabbed the ball, took to dribbles, fired up the shot for the win…air-ball, but Wendell Moore Jr. was in the right place at the right time yet again and put in the air-ball in for the Blue Devils as time expired. Is Duke getting lucky? 

Two games in a row that came down to the end, and the game against the Tar Heels easily could have gone a much different way if UNC could hit a free throw. UNC shot 55 percent from the free throw line while Duke shot 76.5 percent from the free throw line. The Tar Heels lost by two points, Duke made five more free throws than UNC, and Duke shot four less free throws than UNC. Florida State lost by 5 and made 5 less free throws than Duke, so is Duke getting lucky, facing bad free throw shooting teams, or an excellent team at following through down the stretch in big games? 

Duke is being coached by the best coach in college basketball’s history, Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K did not get all those wins not following through down the stretch. Duke has now beaten Kansas, Michigan State, and Florida State this year. The Blue Devils are 21-3 and 11-2 in conference play, but is the ACC the best conference this year. The Big Ten is looking extremely difficult with teams like Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, Illinois, and Penn State. The Big Ten is always a strong competitor in the tournament but is usually overshadowed by the ACC, but college basketball has been a roller coaster this year and the ACC is not as strong as years past. But let’s focus on Duke. Duke went on the road into the Izzone and upset, 11th ranked at the time, Michigan State, so what does this say about Duke?  

Duke is a very talented basketball and now that Tre Jones has some experience under his belt he can try to improve his game more and evolve into a more dynamic player. In addition, Vernon Carey Jr. is a force in the post and it is very difficult to slow him down on offense. This Duke team could definitely make a run in the tournament, but they need to continue to follow through down the stretch.

Categories: NCAAB

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