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Mark Gottfried ‘can’t imagine’ anybody but Duke as the nation’s No. 1 team

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North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried had high praise for his in-state rival Duke during Tuesday’s annual summer press conference in Raleigh, N.C.

N.C. State was the preseason favorite in the ACC last year, which ended in disappointment for the Wolfpack. Gottfried not only predicted Duke would be the top team in the new-look ACC, but that the Blue Devils should be the nation’s top team when the season starts this fall. From David Morrison of the Greensboro News & Record:

“I can’t imagine anybody else being picked No. 1 in the country than Duke,” Gottfried told reporters.

Gottfried has some reason to fear Duke heading into next year. Blue Devils do return Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins and Rasheed Sulaimon and add Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and incoming freshman Jabari Parker. That gives Duke one of the more talented and deep perimeters in the country, which will help make up for the loss of Mason Plumlee on the inside.

But I’d like to imagine that Kentucky’s heralded recruiting class, a reloaded Kansas squad and the defending national champion Louisville all have a case to be next season’s top dog. Duke is ranked No. 6 in CBT’s preseason Top 25, behind the three previously mentioned teams as well as Arizona and Michigan State.

The praise from Gottfried was not only on a team level, but an individual one also.

“There’s a lot of attention around Jabari Parker, but wait until you see Rodney Hood,” Gottfried added. “He’s that good. They’re loaded.”

In a projected loaded draft  in 2014, Gottfried believes Hood and Parker should go No. 2 and No. 3 after Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins.

While Gottfried is predicting big things for Duke, he understands that a lot needs to be done for his Wolfpack. N.C. State loses its starting five from last year’s disappointing season. Though, he has a solid incoming class that features three four-star recruits — point guard Anthony Barber, forward Kyle Washington and center BeeJay Anya — in addition to returning rising sophomore T.J. Warren.

“It’s kind of a blank slate,” Gottfried told reporters. “We’re not real sure who can do what yet.

“It’s going to be hard. But it’ll be fun.”

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

WATCH LIVE: Hofstra travels to Delaware on NBCSN

James Madison forward Yohanny Dalembert (40) prepares to shoot against Hofstra forward Rokas Gustys, behind, during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Harrisonburg, Va., Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)
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Hofstra tries to keep pace with the conference’s elite as they travel to Delaware on Saturday afternoon. You can watch this CAA battle live on NBCSN at 5:00 p.m. EST.

The Pride (17-8, 9-4) are currently two games behind conference leader UNC-Wilmington and they’re trying to make a run to close out the season. Senior guard Juan’ya Green leads the Pride in points (17.7 ppg), assists (7 apg) and steals (1.8 spg) and he’s surrounded by a dangerous supporting cast.

Delaware (6-18, 1-12) had lost 15 consecutive games before beating Drexel in their last game. The Blue Hens have struggled in CAA play but Kory Holden (17.5 ppg, 4 apg) will try to help lead the upset.

These two teams met on Dec. 31 with Hofstra winning that one, 90-80, at home.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.

Michigan gets Caris LeVert back in a win over No. 18 Purdue

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) tries to steal the ball from Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.

Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.

And they picked up a top 25 win.

So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.

But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.

LeVert isn’t done for the season.

And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.

That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.

So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.