No easy answers from Duke’s loss


Duke picked a great weekend to lose. It just needs to work on its timing.

Had the Blue Devils suffered their 93-78 loss to St. John’s on Saturday – when four Top 10 teams lost along with seven others in the Top 25 – it would’ve just been part of yesterday’s carnage. Instead, Duke’s the biggest college hoops news of the day – and sure to weigh heavily on voters’ mind when they submit their polls tonight. (That much poll carnage probably means teams should just stay where they are, though.)

Then again, that’s the furthest thing from Mike Krzyzewski’s mind right now. He’s more about his team’s shooting (5 of 26 from beyond the arc) and their effort.

“It’s not an Xs and Os thing today,” the Duke coach said. “I felt we were not ready to compete, we had blank expressions on our faces and guys weren’t talking and that’s my responsibility. Our program didn’t do well today and that is all our responsibilities.”

The loss dropped Duke to 19-2 overall and immediately sparked discussions of what’s next. Are the Devils frauds? Can they overcome their issues in March?

And can they be a No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament rolls around?

The answers: No, yes and maybe.

Every Top 10 team except Ohio State and Texas has lost in the past nine days. OK, Duke’s got problems. So does everyone else. (Even Ohio State’s time is coming.) Those problems could be their downfall in March, but the Devils could just as easily find their shooting stroke and cruise to another Final Four.

That No. 1 seed is trickier. Duke has 10 wins vs. the RPI Top 100 right now, which is more than Ohio State and as many as UConn. But the slacking ACC doesn’t present many marquee win opportunities for Duke.

For now, everyone’s chasing Ohio State, while Kansas, Pitt, Texas and UConn all arguably have better résumés than Duke. But all those teams play in tougher leagues and seem far more likely to add another loss or three to their records, while Duke will probably finish 14-2 in the ACC and enter the ACC tournament 28-3 overall.

Duke’s hardly done. It’s just relying on others for help at this point.

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