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.