Daily Dribble: Duke is Underrated
I tend to usually think that the media and the public overrate Duke.. but suddenly the Blue Devils are underrated. Perhaps the most underrated team in the country.
First off, they will make the NCAA Tournament. Lets all just calm down. The #10 Pomeroy, #14 Sagarin, #18 RPI, and #26 AP team will make the NCAA Tournament. If the Tournament started today, not only would they make it, but they'd still probably deserve a 5 or 6 seed.
The ACC is solid. Look at Maryland.. just 4-6 (8th) in conference play, but they'd probably be the 3rd best team in the Big Ten. Look how they beat Illinois in Champaign and Michigan State on a neutral court. There's only a few easy games in the league.. and the problem for Duke is that they don't have the lower tier teams left on the schedule. Only BC, GT, Clemson, Maryland, and UNC left.. and only 2 of those 5 are at home. So going 3-2 or better in those games will be very hard, especially since you figure the game at UNC is basically a guaranteed loss. But I think they'll win the road game at BC, then the home games against Maryland and GT which would put them at 8-8 in the league. That should still be good for a very favorable seed.
Also, I've heard a lot of complaints about "Oh my God, how is Duke even close to being in the top 25!? They don't even deserve a single vote!" This is nonsensical. The real problem is that I dare you to find me a lower or slightly higher ranked team thats accomplished more. There's just nothing out there. You really want BYU in the Top 25? A team that lost to Lamar and Boise State. Texas? Does that road win at Texas Tech really excite you? Alabama's 25? Is that what you want? Is that 2-5 (soon to be 2-6 when they play Florida) road record really better than Duke?
The fact is that Duke is 5-3 against the Sagarin Top 25. The only teams with more Top 25 wins are UNC and UCLA with six apiece. Ranked teams Georgetown, Air Force, Nevada, and Alabama are a combined 0-5 against Top 25 teams. So remind me again why they're all so much better than Duke?
In fact, the #1, 2, and 3 teams in the country (Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio State) are 5-6 against the Top 25.. which isn't even as good as Duke's 5-3 record in such games.
Anyways, the point isn't that Duke is awesome. They're not. But they're solid and there's really nothing out there any better right now.
Some thoughts on last night's games.
Ugly loss for Pitt last night. The Panthers are suddenly vulnerable at home. Just 2-2 in their last 4 home games.. and they barely put Providence away over the weekend. Washington comes to town next for a non-conference game. The Huskies are one of the worst road teams in the country.. but a) they're in dire need of a win, and b) they seem to match-up well with Pitt. Should be an interesting game.
Davidson keeps on winning. 22-4 overall and 13-1 in the SoCo. The problem for the Wildcats is they went just 1-3 in their non-conference road trips to BCS teams. Losses at Michigan, Missouri, and Duke.. the lone win against lowly Arizona State. In fact, they don't have a single win against an RPI Top 100 team. There's only 3 RPI Top 100 teams without a Top 100 win. Davidson at #69, Long Beach State at 79, and TAMU-CC at 86.
By the way, the worst team with an RPI Top 50 win? #254 Lamar, who as noted above, beat BYU earlier. Lamar has one more Top 50 win than #11 AP team Nevada..
West Virginia came down to Earth quickly, getting rocked by Georgetown. The win over undermanned UCLA was nice and all.. but this team had no business jumping into the Top 25. Their best road win is against Seton Hall, and besides UCLA.. their best win all season is at home against Villanova. (Add this to the reasons above why Duke is still a Top 25 team).