On Tuesday, Duke lost their second straight game to a middle-of-the-pack ACC team, getting torched by Miami’s talented back court and completing a three-day, two-game stretch where they allowed 177 points.
Their defense was a shambles, and Louisville’s ball-screen heavy offense was almost assuredly going to light them up again.
And then Duke went zone, Louisville went ice cold and the Blue Devils picked up a convincing victory over the Cardinals.
So how do you rank the Blue Devils this week? I have them at No. 7. Here’s why: Duke won on Saturday because they had the element of surprise — Coach K NEVER plays zone — and a perfect matchup to switch up their defense and have it be successful.
That’s not always going to be the case, however. ACC teams now know they have to prepare for a zone when they play Duke, and there aren’t many teams that are going to shoot 4-for-25 from long range. And that’s saying nothing of the fact that these Duke players have never played zone in college before.
I’ll credit Coach K with that win at Louisville. There’s a reason he’s about to win his 1,000th game. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Blue Devils have some flaws this season.
We need to see what they do at Notre Dame and at Virginia before we can put them back into the vicinity of the top three.
Anyway, on to the Top 25 …
1. Kentucky (17-0, LW: No. 1): Remember when Kentucky was struggling to put away SEC opponents? Well, last week they obliterated Missouri at home and followed that up by going into Tuscaloosa and beating Alabama 70-48. I think they’re back.
2. Virginia (17-0, LW: No. 2): The Cavs continue to roll through the ACC, beating Clemson and Boston College this past week. They’ll play both of the Techs this week before their real test: An eight-day stretch where visits from Duke and Louisville bookend a trip to North Carolina.
3. Gonzaga (18-1, LW: No. 4): The Zags survived a tough road trip to Southern California last week, including a two-point win over Pepperdine. On Thursday, they will host St. Mary’s, the other undefeated team in the WCC.
4. Wisconsin (16-2, LW: No. 5): The Badgers bounced back from their loss at Rutgers with a win over Nebraska in the Kohl Center. It will be interesting to see just how well the Badgers fare without Trae Jackson in the mix.
5. Villanova (17-1, LW: No. 6): Villanova got a fight from Penn on Saturday, which is a perfect example of why playing a non-conference rivalry game in January is a risk. The Wildcats continue to look like the class of the Big East.
6. Arizona (16-2, LW: No. 8): The Wildcats made a statement on Saturday with their 18 point win over Utah at home. There are still questions marks for them offensively, particularly when T.J. McConnell is forced into playing the role of lead distributor.
7. Duke (15-2, LW: No. 3)
8. Iowa State (13-3, LW: No. 11): The Cyclones lost by one at Baylor this week and followed that up with a win over Kansas at home. I know I have them ranked above Kansas, but I still think that Kansas ends up winning the conference.
9. Utah (14-3, LW: No. 9): I know that they lost by 18 to Arizona, but I think that had more to do with the fact that the game was played at Arizona than the Utes not being a top ten team. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back.
10. Kansas (14-3, LW: No. 10): A loss at Iowa State aside, I still think that the Jayhawks are the class of the Big 12. There’s no shame in losing in Hilton Coliseum.
11. Notre Dame (17-2, LW: No. 12)
12. Louisville (15-3, LW: No. 7)
13. Maryland (17-2, LW: No. 15)
14. North Carolina (12-4, LW: No. 14)
15. Oklahoma (12-5, LW: No. 13)
16. Wichita State (16-2, LW: No. 16)
17. VCU (15-3, LW: No. 17)
18. Texas (13-4, LW: No. 19)
19. West Virginia (15-3, LW: No. 18)
20. Seton Hall (13-4, LW: No. 20)
21. Northern Iowa (16-2, LW: No. 25)
22. Baylor (13-4, LW: No. 20)
23. Indiana (14-4, LW: UR)
24. Iowa (13-5, LW: UR)
25. Oklahoma State (12-5, LW: No. 23)