ACC Bracketology — Duke’s ResumePosted by mpatton on February 27th, 2012
Over the next week we will be taking a look at the ACC teams whose names should be called on Selection Sunday.
The eye test isn’t kind to Duke. The Blue Devils rely too much on the three, play inconsistent defense, lack post presence, and only showcase one athletic creator (a freshman no less). That’s been the narrative all season. To a decent extent, it’s actually true. Duke looks very beatable. The team has many flaws and less talent than the great Duke teams of Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure. Some people point to 2009-10 as a comparison year, but that’s misguided too. Yes, Duke faced many of the same criticisms, but statistically Duke was a top team in the country (largely because of offensive rebounding and suffocating defense). This team barely cracks Ken Pomeroy’s top ten thanks to a recent defensive surge.
But no team in the country owns a better resume than Duke based on wins. Kentucky and Syracuse certainly deserve an edge based on not losing. No one here or anywhere else would argue those two teams don’t deserve top seed lines Selection Sunday, but the other two #1 seeds are a little tougher to choose. The candidates are Duke, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State. Joe Lunardi dropped Duke to the second line in favor of Kansas after the Jayhawks’ thrilling win against Missouri. I’m going to argue Duke should be above Kansas and Michigan State.
First things first, this argument isn’t based on projections. If Duke loses against North Carolina Saturday, things change, but for now the Blue Devils should be on the top line. They beat Kansas, Michigan, and Michigan State on neutral sites and they beat North Carolina and Florida State on the road. Their worst loss is in overtime to Miami at home.
The Spartans lost to Duke and North Carolina on neutral sites. Their best out-of-conference win came at home against Florida State. They have also lost three road games in conference play (two against NCAA tournament bubble teams). To their credit they beat Ohio State on the road (Duke got steamrolled), Michigan at home, and swept Wisconsin.
The Jayhawks sport a very bad “neutral court” loss (it was in Kansas City) to Davidson. They do have a win over Ohio State without Jared Sullinger at home. In conference play they split with Missouri and swept Baylor with their only other loss coming at Iowa State.
Those are three very good resumes. Kansas and Michigan State should get credit for playing in tougher conferences than the ACC, but it’s hard to look at those resumes and think that both are better than Duke. I know Duke’s play hasn’t been dominant, but seeding isn’t about projecting. It’s about assessing a team’s resume. Right now Duke’s resume is worthy even if it is susceptible to losing in the second round.