Earlier this week, Jay Bilas said that Duke was the major contender to break through to the No. 1 seed line.
The Blue Devils didn’t do themselves any favors last night. Mike Krzyzewski’s team laid an absolute egg to rival NC State. The Wolfpack jumped out to a 15-point lead by halftime, and cruised to an 88-66 victory in Raleigh. It is unclear what impact it will have on Duke’s NCAA Tournament outlook, but it is a huge boost to State’s.
The loss snapped a seven-game win-streak for the Blue Devils, who looked to be in good shape to separate from Florida State and Louisville at the top of the ACC standings. After the game, Coach K was critical of his team, saying the group was “not competitive.” He did give the Wolfpack credit, saying that they played great. Markell Johnson led the way in the win, scoring a career-high 28 points, while Devon Daniels dropped a career-high 25 in the win.
On this morning’s episode of ESPN’s Get Up!, Duke great Jay Williams was very upset about the performance. He said that the team’s effort “broke his heart.” From Williams’ appearance:
“They weren’t (hungry.) So, what happens is… you start reading the press clippings, you start thinking, ‘Hey, we’re on TV every single night and everyone is telling us how great we are.’ Then, you go on the road against a team that isn’t in the NCAA Tournament yet, they’re a bubble team, and Markell Johnson goes off for 20-plus points. So this is a time to draw a line in the sand and to found out more about their identity.
“I have to extract some positive out of this thing.”
Williams did acknowledge that this could be a major learning opportunity for a very young Duke team. Of the six Blue Devils to play at least 20 minutes, three are freshmen and one is a sophomore.
Clips from Williams on Get Up!, via ESPN’s YouTube channel:
No. 6 Duke is now 22-4 overall, with a 12-3 ACC record. They’re one half-game behind Louisville for the conference lead, and tied with Florida State. Duke beat Florida State but lost to Louisville earlier this year, and doesn’t play a second game with either of them.
For the ACC as a whole, last night’s game might’ve been a very good thing. The win is one that the Wolfpack desperately needed, and may help the struggling league land five teams in the Big Dance.
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