Team of the Week: Duke

February 10th, 2008
Of all the overrated things in college basketball – white players, bracketologists, the nickname Psycho T – the Duke-North Carolina rivalry is not one of them. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, where we take pride in our apathy, I’ve always been jealous of the visceral hatred of tobacco row. It is embarrassing to even attempt to draw comparisons with any rivalries on the West Coast.


It would be easy – and is honestly quite tempting – to diminish Duke’s (21-1, 9-0 ACC) win over North Carolina. Absent Ty Lawson, the Tar Heels are obviously not at full speed. Even royal blue blooded Dickie V. admitted that without their starting point guard, North Carolina was like a “sports car without its engine.”


Nevertheless, the events surrounding the game made it the most anticipated of the week. The #2 and #3 rated teams in the country and the greatest rivalry in college basketball were enough to make this a must-watch game. However, the true excitement was derived from last season’s cheap shot bludgeoning of Tyler Hansbrough’s face, which led to college basketball’s greatest YouTube moment (“This is Why Duke Sucks”). Unfortunately, this being basketball and not baseball or hockey, there was no retaliation.


Duke’s 89-78 win at the Dean Smith Center was nonetheless impressive. North Carolina was unable to take advantage of Duke’s lack of an inside presence. It seemed appropriate that during the week Bobby Knight retired, his greatest protégé got a big win by disregarding Knight’s stubborn mantra that his way is the best way to play basketball. Coach K’s recognition of his team’s weaknesses and his ability to adapt his coaching style accordingly demonstrated why his Blue Devils will continue to win and therefore, continue to be hated.


Next, the Blue Devils managed to avoid a let down by getting a win against Boston College. The game was closer than it should have been, with Duke actually down by one at half time. However, they took care of business in the second half, winning 90-80 and securing a two game lead in the ACC.


Honorable Mention:


Mitt Romney look alike Rick Pitino and his unranked Louisville Cardinals (18-6, 8-3 Big East) upset ranked Big East foes Georgetown and Marquette.


The University of Washington Huskies (13-11, 4-7 Pac-10) got a big win in the Pac-10, knocking off the #4 ranked UCLA Bruins. But in the cowardly nature that has become indicative of Lorenzo Romar’s Huskies (i.e. quitting their series with instate rival Gonzaga) they soiled their victory when Tim Morris spiked an inbounds pass off the face of Alfred Aboya, at point blank range with the game in hand. As an encore and in a demonstration of the fact that the Huskies have not had many big wins in his time there, Quincy Pondexter jumped on top of the scorer’s table and beat his chest, apparently unaware that his team is still in second to last place in the Pac-10.


Last Week’s Winner: Stanford