Before getting started on the roller-coaster ride that has been the Duke Blue Devils’ season, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: It is only February 12, meaning there is still plenty of basketball that needs to be played. After all, conference tournaments still need to go down — and it’s not even March yet.
With that said, the Blue Devils are still very much alive when it comes to earning a No. 1 seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Yes, the Blue Devils have been a disappointment this season for the simple fact that they haven’t been blowing teams out left and right, and they already have five losses, but there is still, like stated above, plenty of basketball that needs to be played.
Not to mention, for the first time ever, the NCAA tournament committee released its top 16 teams for the 2017 NCAA tournament early, and Duke received a No. 4 seed.
The full #BracketPreview!
Is it a glimpse at this year’s Sweet 16?? pic.twitter.com/TElTZy98WG
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 11, 2017
Duke still has quite the uphill battle when it comes to earning a top seed in the dance, but this team also plays in the ACC, a conference that is filled with quality teams, which could lead to quality wins for the Blue Devils.
For example, the Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina Tar Heels, and Louisville Cardinals all received No. 2 seeds in the early NCAA bracket. For the record, all three of these teams reside in the ACC.
Duke still has meetings with the Seminoles and Tar Heels. Duke also still has to take on the Virginia Cavaliers, a squad that received a No. 3 seed in the early tourney bracket.
While the Blue Devils might have gotten off to a rocky start in ACC play, they are now 8-4, and they are also only one game back in the conference standings.
The key for Duke? Win out, and win the ACC tournament. Both things are way easier said than done. After all, the ACC is arguably the best conference in America. The Blue Devils could use some help as well.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs, Kansas Jayhawks, Baylor Bears, and Villanova Wildcats received the No. 1 seeds. Unfortunately for Duke, it went down to Kansas earlier in the season, and Gonzaga has yet to lose a game in the 2016-17 college basketball season.
In terms of ACC play, the Blue Devils have already lost to Louisville and Florida State, but both games were played away from home — for all it’s worth.
Yes, Mike Krzyzewski’s team has quite the uphill battle when it comes to earning a No. 1 seed, but it is possible.
For starters, the Blue Devils only lost to Kansas by two points, and Duke was missing an overwhelming amount of talent in that game. A win against the Florida Gators is looking better and better (Florida received a No. 3 seed in the early tourney bracket), and it has a major resume booster thanks to the win over North Carolina. The best thing Duke has going for it? It is currently on fire, and is looking like a serious national title contender in the process. Oh yeah, the Blue Devils are also arguably the most talented team in college basketball.
The Blue Devils have won five contests in a row, with two of those victories coming against ranked opponents (at the time). Grayson Allen looks like a top player in the sport once again, and he might not even be the best player on the team (Luke Kennard has been the main guy for Krzyzewski’s bunch this season, and he is leading the team with 20 points per game to prove it).
Talent has not been the question for the Blue Devils in 2016-17. As this team continues to get more and more healthy, it will become tougher and tougher to knock off, especially once March rears its beautiful head.
All of that aside, if the Blue Devils plan on earning a top seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament, then they might need to win out, which will have to include victories over Virginia, Florida State, and North Carolina. A deep run in the ACC tournament might not be enough since so many other teams in this conference are in the running for a No. 1 seed as well, so this talented bunch will likely have to win the ACC tourney. It is possible, folks.
A little luck and some help from other teams would certainly go a long way. At this point in the season, everything remains a mystery, but that’s the beauty of college hoops — mystery has always been the name of the game, which is why March Madness is a thing.
This we do know: If Duke continues to win, its seed for the Big Dance will continue to get better and better.
[Featured Image by Grant Halverson/Getty Images]