- The Duke Blue Devils were recently handed the third worse loss of any number-one ranked college basketball team in history when they lost to Miami (FL) Hurricanes on Jan. 23 by a score of 90-63.
Duke has now lost two of its last three games and find themselves in an unfamiliar position at third place in the ACC conference, behind both the Hurricanes and the North Carolina State Wolfpack, who gave Duke their only other loss on the season.
Duke will face off against the offensively inept Maryland Terrapins tomorrow. However, the Terrapins beat the Wolfpack, 51-50, on Jan. 17 which undoubtedly gives them confidence against their conference rivals. They also lost to the Hurricanes, but it was a modest 54-47 defeat on Jan. 13.
Duke terribly misses Ryan Kelly’s production (13.4 ppg and 5.4 rpg) and he will be out for the fourth straight game. In the three games that Kelly has missed, Duke is scoring 70.6 points per game. When Kelly was in the lineup, Duke was averaging 79.3 points per game.
The Terrapins, on the other hand, can struggle scoring the basketball at times, but play defense and rebound very well. As a matter of fact, they are currently second in the nation at 43.0 rebounds per game, and third in the country in field goal percentage defense at 35.1%.
This is also a great opportunity for Maryland to beat the #1 ranked team in the polls and the RPI. Maryland has no excuse to not be up for the challenge. They have proved to themselves that they are one of the top teams in the ACC and this game is an obvious measuring stick for Mark Turgeon’s program. Beating Duke is their ticket into the NCAA Tournament come March.
Still, Duke has an embarrassing loss to motivate them and also the benefit of the Cameron Indoor Stadium and their incredible home crowd.
However, if Duke drops two games and falls even further behind the likes of Miami (FL), North Carolina State and Maryland in the ACC standings, there is no way that they should be ranked in the nation’s top 10.
How could they be, if they aren’t even in the top three of their own conference and have lost three out of their last four games, including two in a row?
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter: @CoachDeSalvo