North Carolina v Duke

Duke’s flaws are exposed as they get blown out by North Carolina

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Well, that was anti-climatic.

It only took four minutes and 29 seconds for No. 6 UNC to open up a double-digit lead against No. 4 Duke. The Tar Heels were up 17 points by the second TV timeout. By halftime, the lead had swelled all the way to 24. And while the Blue Devils were able to trim the deficit to 11 at one point in the second half, there is no denying what we saw on Saturday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium: a blowout.

All the buildup of the Duke-UNC rivalry. All the hype surrounding the rematch of what could very well be the best game of the college basketball season with the ACC regular season title on the line. The bright lights of ESPN’s Gameday in attendance. And the only thing we learned from UNC’s 88-70 win over Duke is that the Blue Devils may be the nation’s most overrated good team.

That’s not to say Duke isn’t talented. Because they are. Austin Rivers is a talented scorer. So is Seth Curry. Andre Dawkins is a lights-out shooter when he gets into a rhythm. The Plumlees are athletic freaks that can be very effective in the paint. Ryan Kelly’s ability to stretch the floor is valuable.

But never have we seen Duke’s flaws exposed so blatantly as they were tonight.

The Blue Devils are a bad defensive team. It really is that simple. Curry, Rivers and Dawkins would have trouble defending the chair that Yi Jianlian so infamously dominated in his NBA Draft workouts. They don’t have anyone capable of guarding a quality small forward, which is why 6’1″ Tyler Thornton spent the majority of the game trying to slow down 6’8″ Harrison Barnes. Is it any wonder that Duke’s run in the second half came when they finally started stringing together some stops?

Offensively, Duke can be dangerous because of how well they shoot the three-ball. Its what their offensive is predicated on. But as the saying goes, live by the three and die by the three. When they aren’t falling, you see performances like you did tonight from the Blue Devils.

Duke does not pass the eye test for a one or two seed, but the eye test doesn’t determine where a team is going to be seeded. That’s why the Blue Devils will, rightfully, end up being a one or a two seed in the tournament. They beat so many good teams in the non-conference portion of their schedule that its inevitable.

What that means that there is going to be some team sitting somewhere around a seven seed that will be licking their chops come the second round of the tournament. What happens if the Blue Devils draw a team like San Diego State (who is currently being projected as a seven seed) or Long Beach State (who is getting a ten seed in some brackets) or any other team with a quality back court?

I can already tell you who the trendiest upset pick is going to be come Selection Sunday.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Key contests in Atlantic 10, Pac-12

Arizona head coach Sean Miller talks with guard Allonzo Trier (11) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern State in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)  ALL LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; PAC-12 OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; GREEN VALLEY NEWS OUT
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UCLA at No. 17 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.
The Bruins and Wildcats have already met once this season, with a Bryce Alford three-pointer giving UCLA an 87-84 win. But UCLA has continued to struggle with consistency since then, and the chance at payback should serve as a motivating factor for Arizona. Sean Miller’s team welcomed back Allonzo Trier in Saturday’s win at Washington, and in forward Ryan Anderson they have one of the conference’s best players. The “rivalry” aspect of this game should make it a good one, as UCLA tends to show up for big-name opponents, but it could also be another major blow to the Bruins’ fleeting hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 19 Dayton at Rhode Island, 7:00 p.m.
The Rams have struggled with injuries all season, most recently dealing with Jarvis Garrett’s broken jaw and Kuran Iverson’s concussion. Garrett’s back on the floor, playing with a face mask that appears to be inspired by Hannibal Lecter, and it’s that team toughness that makes URI a serious threat to first-place Dayton at the Ryan Center (Iverson’s been medically cleared but remains a game-time decision). Charles Cooke has been outstanding for the Flyers this season, and Dayton’s depth makes them a tough matchup for any team much less one as banged up as URI.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1. As a result of No. 11 Oregon’s loss at Cal last night, No. 23 USC finds itself tied in the loss column atop the Pac-12 standings heading into their game at Arizona State (8:00 p.m.). Outside of keeping opponents off the offensive glass the Sun Devils have had issues defensively in conference play, and with the Trojans’ many scoring options led by guards Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs this will be a tough matchup for the home team.

2. Monmouth looks to maintain its lead atop the MAAC standings, as they visit Rider (9:00 p.m.). The Broncs haven’t been the conference contender many envisioned them being when the season began but they’re still dangerous, with players such as guard Teddy Okereafor capable of giving opponents fits. Justin Robinson, who’s been excellent at the point all season long, leads the way for a Monmouth team that still has hopes of earning an at-large bid should they need it.

3. Having lost to Yale last weekend, Columbia’s in a position where they need to hold serve ahead of the rematch in New York City March 5. That makes games like tonight’s against Penn (7:00 p.m.) that much more important for Kyle Smith’s Lions, who have done a good job of turning opponents over in league play (22.8 TO%). Penn’s had issues taking care of the basketball, and that combined with Columbia’s tandem of Maodo Lo and Alex Rosenberg could prove to be the difference at Levien Gym.

4. Two teams looking to make a push in the MAC East race meet in Buffalo, as the Bulls host Ohio (7:00 p.m.). Nate Oats’ team had its four-game win streak snapped by Toledo, with the Rockets beating Buffalo by two Wednesday night. They’ll look to rebound with a defense that has been the best in the MAC in conference play (tops in defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage), but they have to take care of the basketball in order to do so.

5. Grand Canyon, which can’t play in the NCAA tournament as they’re still in the Division I transition process, looks to remain a game behind New Mexico State in the WAC standings. Dan Majerle’s Antelopes visit Seattle (10:00 p.m.), which handed GCU its first conference loss 13 days ago. GCU shot just 6-for-23 from three in that game, which they led by ten late in the first half. If Seattle is to win they’ll need to slow down the tandem of sophomore Joshua Braun and senior Grandy Glaze, who combine to average 31.5 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.