It’s all or nothing for the Duke Blue Devils who open the ACC tournament today versus Boston College in a game they must win if they even want to sniff the NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils finished the regular season 11-11, including 9-9 in conference play. It’s the worst record for Duke since 1995. The last time Duke won four games in four days was the 2017 ACC Tournament as the 5th seed, defeating Notre Dame 75-69, led by NBA star Jayson Tatum. Can history repeat itself within a 5 day timespan?
How did Duke get here?
Inconsistencies all season long and underperforming as a collective group led to the Blue Devils’ disappointing season. Duke goes as First-team All-ACC Matthew Hurt goes; and sometimes that’s not even enough. Losing 3 straight games against potential NCAA tournament teams, Duke hasn’t looked like a “Big-dance” team and will more than certainly need to win the ACC tournament to make it. For the vast majority of the season, Duke has looked Charmin tissue soft, lost defensively and offensively, and no player that has revealed themselves as being an alpha-dog or team captain. The Blue Devils also lost potential lottery pick Jalen Johnson over a month ago, when he made the decision to prepare for his NBA career over riding the bench. However you slice and dice it, Duke has looked anemic and rather ordinary.
What 2 watch for?
In their first matchup against Boston College on January 6th, the Blue Devils escaped Cameron with a one-point win in a game where they found themselves down 16 in the first half. Not able to keep the guards of Boston College out the lane, is a story that has doomed Duke all year. The Eagles’ backcourt combined for over 40 points. Mark Williams played just six minutes. He’s since become an interior presence for Duke. Both teams are much different from the January 6th matchup. We thought the identity of Duke was going through it’s best player in Matthew Hurt, or the freshman backcourt duo of Roach and Steward giving a spark, but it’s been hard trying to figure out this team who seemed to quit in the season finale versus arch rival UNC.
The ACC has been lopsided this season, with unexpected results nightly. On any given night any team can get clipped. For the last two months Duke has been fighting for their tourney hopes. This season should have never resulted in Duke playing on opening Tuesday versus Boston College. For Duke it’s taking care of the rock, controlling the boards and limiting the Eagles penetration into the lane. And more importantly, the Blue Devils cannot looking ahead to a potential Louisville matchup. It’s as simple as that. Playing with a sense of pride.
How to Watch
TV: ACCN (Dave O’Brien, Cory Alexander)
Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Blue Devil Sports (David Shumate, John Roth)