Photo courtesy of FanSided.
Duke basketball. Is there anything else to say? Talk about five national championships, 11 total appearances, 16 Final Fours, the highest winning percentage in college basketball (.755) and the number one recruiting class of 2018. There couldn’t be a more imperious squad.
As the nation prepares itself to welcome three of the top five recruits and four of the top 50, most are quick to label the Blue Devils as the new 2014 Kentucky Wildcats. They went undefeated in the regular season and finished 38-1. Their only loss came to the National Champions, UCONN.
However, what makes this team so exciting and fun to watch isn’t just Zion’s dunks but that each of Duke’s top three recruits has the potential to be this year’s number one overall pick. Sports Illustrated already has Zion going number one and RJ Barrett following suit at two. Either one can be the first pick. However, “Barrett’s status as the favorite for No. 1 has been shaken by Williamson’s tour de force” according to Sports Illustrated. Let’s not forget Cam Reddish either, as the nation’s best small forward is poised to go third due to his continued accuracy behind the arc, reaching 42.5% from the three-point line. But can Duke be trusted to win the “ship” this year?
Based on potential and the coaching talent, many would be quick to say yes. However, in each of the last eight seasons, Duke has failed to enter the postseason ranked higher than their preseason rankings. Not to mention that out of the times that they have ranked in the top five since the turn of the decade, (2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), they have only made the Final Four once, which was their championship run in 2015. So, what makes this team any different than those of the past? Is it that everyone is buying into the suggestion that Duke could produce the next LeBron James?
Regardless of the argument, Duke’s raw talent is there and the unpredictability of March will always favor a higher seed, especially if they boast one of the better rosters. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is too good to squander such an opportunity and repeat his 2011 and 2013 first-round blunders, as his arsenal of weapons are reminiscent of the 2015 Blue Devils.
Add your potential first, second and third picks, and you’ve drawn up the perfect nightmare, a terror that the NCAA hasn’t seen since Kentucky sent four first rounders and two second rounders to the NBA.
Trust and love them, it’s what sports fans do. If you account for the heartbreaks of every March Madness upset and each bracket-busting Cinderella story, you’ve already got issues. What would one more heartbreak do?