Duke Basketball Dishes Out Devastating Dose of Revenge on N.C. State Wolfpack
If you were looking for a trendy upset pick to reach the ACC Tournament final, you might have gone with North Carolina State. Fresh off a solid win last night over Pittsburgh in the second round of the tournament, the Wolfpack met up with the Duke Blue Devils tonight in the quarterfinals. Remember that in January, N.C. State thrashed Duke in Raleigh, 87-75.
There was no such upset tonight. Not when the Duke Blue Devils (29-3) are playing like a team that could even beat the Kentucky Wildcats and win the national championship. Duke dominated every phase of the game from the opening tip, crushing the Wolfpack, 77-53, in a game that really wasn’t even that close.
Duke is no longer the team that scuffled to losses at Notre Dame and North Carolina State (20-13), while getting smashed at home by Miami. The Hurricanes at least are likely to make the NCAA Tournament and the Fighting Irish are a lock. One has to wonder what will happen to the Wolfpack after such a comprehensive beatdown delivered by a Blue Devils team that didn’t win the ACC regular-season title, but that is playing the best basketball in the conference right now.
Beating Kentucky probably requires another level. Duke’s forward depth would be tested against Kentucky’s massive and deep front line. But with ACC Player of the Year Jahlil Okafor now 32 games into his freshman year, that old phrase about, “he’s no longer a freshman,” certainly applies. Combine his ability down low with the three-point shooting of Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, and you have a team that can threaten anyone.
It’s also a Duke team playing with a chip on its shoulder. That earlier loss at Notre Dame was avenged in Durham when the Blue Devils blasted the Fighting Irish by 30. Tonight brought revenge against the Wolfpack. And while Duke already won at Virginia in the regular season, Duke’s veterans remember losing the ACC Tournament championship game a year ago to the Cavaliers and revenge for that is probably in the back of their mind.
Duke isn’t the best team in the country, but the Blue Devils might be the most dangerous. They are firing on all cylinders and systematically washing away any memories of their few failures this season and last.
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