Mason Plumlee

No. 4 Duke survives at BC; headed back to No. 1?

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Over the course of the last two weeks, No. 4 Duke had done a pretty good job of making everyone forget that they had gotten drubbed by 27 points at Miami and were playing without Ryan Kelly.

They smacked Maryland at home. They smacked NC State at home. They whooped up on Florida State at Florida State. They struggled a bit with Wake Forest on the road, but the Demon Deacons have all of a sudden turned into a tough team to beat in Winston-Salem. So we could over look it.

But Maryland has been a disappointment in league play this season. NC State was playing without Lorenzo Brown and needed a three-pointer with a second left from Scott Wood to beat Clemson with Brown back in the lineup on Sunday. Florida State lost by 25 points at Wake Forest. All those impressive wins Duke had? They don’t look at impressive anymore, do they?

Which brings me to Sunday evening, where the Blue Devils needed a 6-0 run over the final two minutes and a friendly whistle on the final possession to beat Boston College 62-61 in Conte Forum.

Now, there are some valid explanations here. On the one hand, Sunday night games are never easy to play, particularly when they’re on the road. But Duke’s travels were particularly difficult, as they were forced to fly up on Sunday thanks to Winter Storm Nemo dumping three feet of snow on New England. Throw in the fact that Conte Forum is always a tough place to play — it’s a cold, quiet and (usually) empty arena — and Duke was primed for an upset.

They managed to hang on for the victory, which, in the end, is more important than anything else, but it creates an interesting conversation heading into next week: Can we really vote Duke No. 1?

The Blue Devils are still playing without Kelly. They’re two games behind Miami, who beat them by 27 points, in the ACC standings. But they’re also the only team in the top five that didn’t lose a game this week. Indiana lost at Illinois. Florida lost at Arkansas. Michigan lost at Wisconsin. Kansas lost at TCU and at Oklahoma.

So does Duke take over the No. 1 ranking?

Frankly, no one should be allowed to.

Let’s just call it a five-way tie for fifth.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of the action on the fringe of the NCAA tournament

Fred VanVleet
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.

Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A Big 12 and a Big Ten showdown

Denzel Valentine
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.

The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.

We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
  2. Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
  3. Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
  4. Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
  5. No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.