If Duke is the best team in the country they sure didn’t look like it on Friday night.
Duke’s ACC Tournament run was short lived and not a very good sign of things to come.
The Blue Devils came out flat, stayed flat and showed little to no intensity in its 83-74 loss to Maryland that ends its bid for an ACC Title and leaves many wondering if this is a team that can even make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Duke, the No. 2 team in the country and the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament never really looked like they were in the game and even when they pulled the lead to within one about midway through the second half, you just never had the feeling that the Blue Devils were going to pull it out.
Mason Plumlee reverted back to a passive defender and virtual nonexistent entity in the game only mustering a few dunks. His fellow senior captain Seth Curry who along with Ryan Kelly were also non existent as the Blue Devils shot barely over 40 percent for the game and were a dreadful 4-25 from three point range.
Maryland was the hungrier team by far and Dez Well’s 30 points was the flash point that ignited the Terrapins past Duke with relative ease. Overall it has to be seen as an embarrassing effort from the Blue Devils who were seen by some as the top team in the country but showed that they are really just as vulnerable as any other team.
The Blue Devils only player who played reasonably well was freshman Rasheed Sulaimon who finished the game with 16 points but with only 8 points from Kelly, Duke just didn’t have enough of its weapons hitting.
Plumlee finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds, but those numbers are deceiving as Plumlee played soft and was plain bad on the defensive end of the floor and not particularly dominant, especially when contested on the glass.
The Maryland victory is the second straight against the Blue Devils and likely gives them a positive nudge toward making the NCAA Tournament. Duke in contrast is looking more like a team that could struggle to get out of the opening weekend as their defensive ineptitude combined with their over reliance on three point shooting was painfully obvious against Maryland.
Duke kept shooting despite the fact that the shots weren’t falling and on defense, Maryland shooter, Wells especially got open look after open look.
It was definitely not a good look for a team that looked poised to take a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament but at this point giving an early loss in the conference tournament it might be surprising if the Blue Devils end up being higher than a No. 2 seed.
The Blue Devils have a week off to reflect on their disappointing play but if history has taught us anything more rest doesn’t equate to more NCAA success. Duke has historically lost during the first weekend when it has lost in its first game of the ACC Tournament.
Duke’s level of inconsistency continues to be a point of frustration and you just never know what you are going to get out of this team from game to game which leaves any deep tournament runs seeming more like wishful thinking than realistic.
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