Duke Blue Devils. I respect yet dislike them more than NC State fans like Karl Hess, and any misery thrown their way is good misery. Except for injuries, we would never wish ill will on anybody. That being said last night's loss was great and terrible all in one. As the small team from Bethlehem conquered the mighty Coach K and his Blue Devils you could not help but smile for those gets who got to experience a moment that will carry with them forever. Duke plays in big games all year, and for C.J. McCollum to have a performance he did against the likes of Austin Rivers and Seth Curry was sensational. On the flip side with Virginia getting embarrassed as they did against Florida, and Duke losing to a fifteen seed what does this say about the state of basketball in the ACC?
If you were just tuning in last night you would have left thinking Lehigh was the better team. They had the best player in McCullum, their strategy was superb on defense, and Duke could not guard them without fouling. When is the last time a Coach K team fouled a team to have shoot free throws 37 times? With all due respect to Lehigh, doesn't Duke have NBA talent in their back court? Isn't that what he hear about Austin Rivers each and every night? Lehigh played really well, but the Blue Devils shot 23% from the three point line, and 41% from the field. That included a 9-9 performance from Mason Plumlee.. Their shot selection from the outside was horrid at times, and they looked panicked down the stretch. Two things that are not characteristic of a Coach K team.
The media can attribute the loss to injuries, but I think Duke was found out to be what they are: a team that had major weaknesses that they were able to hide in a terrible A.C.C. North Carolina, F.S.U. and NC State are all playing well as they advance to to their second games, but the league did not help prepare them for the tournament. NCAA committees are supposed to look at teams on a year by year basis. This may be a good theory, but if were truly in place teams like UCONN would have never made it into the field based on this years record. Perception is reality in many ways in sports and losses such as Duke's will further give proof that the A.C.C is not the league it once was. With Pitt and Syracuse joining the league the A.C.C. will receive more bids, but even Pitt was down this past season as they missed the NCAA tournament. For Duke they will have to hear the shouts of Lehigh for years to come. Just say Weber St. to any UNC fan, or Murray St. to any NC State fan and you will know true that is.
The Great Equalizer: Part I
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