Last night, Duke topped off Ohio State 73-68. It was the Blue Devils' seventh win of the season, fourth victory in seven days, and third win over a top-five team in one month. And if they aren't No. 1 in the next AP poll, then the rankings are an utter travesty.
Duke is the best team in the country. I hate to break this unpleasant news to the 95% of the country that will find it unpleasant, but the writing is on the wall—this hot start isn't just a well-prepared team that's winning against lesser-conditioned opponents, or a Duke team that's finally seeing its 3-balls fall. It's a well-put-together squad that should be the favorite to win the national championship.
Mainly for trolling purposes, I am now going to list out why this is true:
1. Big men
Somehow, someway, the Blue Devils gained the best big man in the country. Mason Plumlee—long a frustrating player who was always good for one "WTF is he doing" play a game—has finally harnassed in his athletic abilities, turning him into something about as common as an attractive, face-painted coed in the Cameron crowd: a dominant Duke center. Part of this is due to an improved free-throw percentage (53% his junior year, 79% this year), which has given him the confidence to body up on guys he'd normally shy away from. He also, frankly, got huge over the offseason.
Seth Curry had a miserable game last night (1-for-6 from the floor, four points) and it didn't matter. At any given time, the Blue Devils have four guys on the court who can hit the three and pick up the slack for the guy who has an off-night. The team has a fucking seven-footer, Ryan Kelly, who won the McDonald's high school All-American three-point contest.
3. A real point guard
For anyone who remembers the glory days of the Greg Paulus era, characterized by his signature cross-the-halfcourt-line-and-immediately-turn-back-the-basket move, last night was a revelation. Quinn Cook, who had eight dimes in the game, spent the second half breaking apart by the Ohio State defense with a dribble-drive offense, slashing inside to find either Mason in the paint or a shooter waiting behind the line. Before a devastating knee injury, Cook was one of the best high school point guards in the country. This is that player.
Rasheed Sulaimon is the most exciting and (just trust me on this) likable freshman in the ACC. He had a sort-of coming out party last night, scoring 17 points in the second half to bring the Blue Devils back in the game, but Duke fans who aren't complete poseurs have known for a while now that he's capable of incredible scoring runs. Keep an eye on this guy.
I welcome any rebuttals in the comments. Anyone think Indiana is better right now, or Kentucky, maybe, will turn into the better team?