Duke, NC State play the compliment game before tip-off

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Duke and N.C. State only play once this season (barring a rematch in the ACC tournament). So how do coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Mark Gottfried approach it.

They’re both playing the nice guy. Check these compliments, via ACC Now.

“I think they’ve earned everything that they’ve gotten,” Krzyzewski said. “I think they’re an NCAA team and I think they will be tough down the stretch for a lot of people.”

And …

“They’re a terrific team and they’ve had a great year. I really like their team,” Gottfried said.  “They’re certainly one of the two or three best teams in the country, in my opinion.”

So. Which statement is “nicer?”

The Wolfpack are 18-7 overall and 7-3 in the ACC after three straight wins. They’re in our latest NCAA tournament projections, but as a 12 seed. Not even close to a lock. Coach K’s not really pulling a Lou Holtz, but “terrific” might be overstating it.

As for Gottfried … Duke is 21-4 overall and 8-2 in the ACC. They’re ranked fifth in the AP poll, but that’s almost certainly too high. By 4 or 5 five spots. The Devils are good, but as good as Kentucky, Syracuse, Ohio State or Missouri? A stretch. A small one, but I suppose Gottfried’s gotta try anything he can at this point. NC State hasn’t won at Duke since 1995 – and that was with Coach K laid up due to back surgery.

If Gottfried’s lucky, his team won’t play as nice as his comment was.

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