Duke Blue Devils Without Zion

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Duke Blue Devils Without Zion

For the first time in years, I looked forward to the Duke/UNC basketball game as must-see TV. If you are even a casual college bball fan then you were probably watching last night (or at least checking the score on your phone every 10 minutes). Tickets for that game were supposedly more expensive than superbowl tickets.

Anyway, I was massively disappointed to see Zion get injured at the beginning of the game. I think that he is the main reason for the level of excitement for watching Duke play. We all agree I think that Zion is already verging on superstardom and he is the most exciting college basketball player to watch.

After he left the game though, I still thought that it would be a great game. UNC has a great team and always plays up for these games. And Duke still was Duke with 3 possible 1st rounders (Barrett, Reddish, and Jones) and a pretty good supporting cast, and home court advantage. But a funny thing happened after Zion left the game. Simply put, Duke looked pretty normal. Like, it looked like a decent top 15-20 team, but definitely not the juggernaut, favorite to win the tournament, team that it has looked like with Zion leading the way. UNC, in spite of Cobi Jones taking too many ill-advised long balls, played a solid game and whipped Duke on their own court. Wasn't even close. I was really surprised by the difference in play when Zion is not on the court. I mean Barrett is a stud for sure, and still looked like a top lottery pick. Reddish looked pretty good too, and he tooke advantage of the extra touches he got to score more. But other than that, the team was really disappointing. Not taking anything away from UNC because they played a great game. Cam Johnson looked ridiculously good, and the team played unselfishly and easily handled Duke without Zion.

Wow. Just really amazing how important Zion is to his team. Take Zion away from Duke, and that team really lost its mojo. My prediction is that if Zion comes back and his knee is fine, Duke wins a national championship. If Zion shuts it down for the year like a lot of people are saying he should, (and I absolutely feel that he should) then Duke is just another good team and they probably get bounced by the round of 16 or 8 come March.

Dazzling Dunks ...
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Zion going down really

Zion going down really highlighted the fact that dukes role players are not very good and this is not a deep team at all. It basically just devolved into Barrett and reddish iso’s the entire game. Yea, they got there buckets but it wasn’t even close to enough to keep up with a well-rounded overall team like North Carolina, who didn’t even shoot particularly well and still won easily.

This game to me really showcased the downside of dukes approach of just going after the cream of the crop one and done guys. Guys really aren’t developing the way they used to as players under coach k. You watch the fundamental mistakes they make throughout the course of the game and it’s hard to believe this is actually a coach k team. They aren’t getting the second tier type of recruits any more who develop over the course of a few years and become valuable role players. There is just no continuity in the program.

If Zion comes back this team absolutely still could win the national title, but I still don’t view them as the outright favorites by any means. They are just way too top heavy imo.

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Sweet 16 at best without

Sweet 16 at best without Zion. They have no interior presence. They play way to much one on one. UNC was getting easy baskets all night with simple passes. Duke would give it to RJ or Cam and get out of the way.

Duke's 9 assists came from 2 players. Tre jones had 4 of them and played almost as terrible as Coby White. I don't see him as an NBA player let alone a 1st round pick.

RJ had the other 4 assists but didn't impress me much either. He always wants to come back to his left hand and his outside shot wasn't falling but he kept chucking em up. His ability to get to the foul line is his best attribute at this point. I would definitely take Reddish over RJ if I am an NBA scout. He has a much better 3 point stroke, plays better D and doesn't need the ball in his hands constantly.

The outside shooting was poor from both teams as they combined for 10-59 from 3. I think that comes from the teams being overhyped for the game because both these teams usually shoot it well. The major difference was Carolina got it inside to Maye and crushed Duke in the paint.

Hopefully Zion is back 3/9 when they play but as many have said what does he really have to prove at this point?

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Cam Reddish time to step it

Cam Reddish time to step it up. Lets see how he performs with increased responsibility. This will really affect his draft stock because in his somewhat hidden role he's been mocked anywhere from 3rd to 12th now we should get a better feel on which tier he belongs to.

Memphis Madness
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This game almost puts UNC on

This game almost puts UNC on the 1 line right? Gotta think that UNC as a 1 seed is their's to lose.

Nobody wants to be ranked number 1 either. Guessing Gonzaga gets the top spot now, but you could make an argument for Virginia, maybe even Kentucky.

Duke as a 2 seed would still be super impressive and would give them a shot at the title (even without Zion), although they could also flame out in the first weekend.

Kinda wanted to see a fully-loaded Duke squad face a fully-loaded Kentucky squad for the title, but, oh well.

New Final Four favorites might be Kentucky, Gonzaga, Virginia, and UNC. Although UT is still right up there (I am gonna go with whoever wins the SEC championship -- guessing that team gets a 1 seed if Kentucky or Tennessee wins).

The top of my poll (as of right now) would be Gonzaga, Virginia, UNC, Kentucky, Duke, Tennessee, Houston, Michigan, Michigan State, and Marquette with the 1 and 2 seeds on the line.


That would give us an Elite 8 (potentially) of Gonzaga-Michigan/Michigan State, Virginia-Houston, UNC-Tennessee, and Kentucky-Duke.

I am all about the Cinderellas, but I would kind of like to see the big heavyweights all make the Elite 8. Maybe throw in a "sleeper" team like Georgetown or even a "must watch" Murray State in there, too. The defending champion Villanova Wildcats making the second weekend would also be good for March Madness.

But, yeah, give me an EPIC Elite 8 as a prelude to a FANTASTIC Final Four.

TarHeelRaven's picture
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Duke hasn't played team ball

Duke hasn't played team ball since they started getting the one and dones. Roy has always stressed team play and making the extra pass. I think that is one of the reason the top recruits have not gone to Carolina. I think it also shows how much better of a Coach Roy is than K. Look, Zion going down obviously made ot easier for Carolina in the paint. That's a no-brainer. Roy has always played guys off his bench and developed depth. K doesn't do that and has no guys that can contribute off the bench. Obviously Duke has the best starting five when healthy. What happens when a star goes down? Where's the back-up plan? Also K has 2 lottery picks in Reddish and Barrett and they got their points, but nobody else even showed up. Marques Bolden was a top ten recruit and the top ranked center in his class and he's going to go undrafted when he leaves Duke. Roy develops players at a much higher rate than K and it's not even close. When's the last time a 3 or 4 star guy came to Duke and stayed 3 or 4 years and turned into an all-american?

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That Duke 2015 National

That Duke 2015 National Championship team had 3 one and done players.

Grayson Allen 4 star recruit, National Champ, All American, stayed 4 years.

mtpandolfi's picture
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Yeah, consider Roy an

Yeah, consider Roy an alchemist with they way he “develops” his players

Isaiah Hicks: 5*

Kennedy Meeks: 4*

Justin Jackson: 5*

Theo Pinson: 5*

Joel Berry: 4*

Kenny Williams: 4*

Tony Bradley: 5*

Seventh Woods: 4*

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