I am still not a true believer in Duke. The Blue Devils have underachieved for most of the season as Mike Krzyzewski and Jeff Capel (who subbed for Coach K as the Hall of Famer underwent back surgery) tried to mix veteran returnees with several one-and-dones.
Since Coach K has returned, things have improved, as the Devils have won seven in a row. All of the victories have been by 10 points or fewer, so they’re not blowing anyone out, but they’re also showing some mental toughness by winning close games.
However, to meet the lofty preseason predictions, they’re going to have play a lot better, the winning streak notwithstanding.
There is gobs of talent available. You can see it from Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen, and Jayson Tatum but it’s like a meteor shower in August: It doesn’t last that long.
I just don’t see a team that’s going to win a national championship yet. There’s still time, but it’s running out quickly.
. . .
Some other small observations:
■ BU really came up short in a big game Sunday against Bucknell, getting vaporized, 86-66.
■ There’s a direct correlation between the size of a school’s logo at midcourt and the size of the lettering on the front of the uniform. The logos have become gargantuan and the lettering isn’t big enough to read.
■ Illinois State wins the award for best uniform by wearing the Doug Collins-era throwbacks Sunday. Check it out.
A look back at the rest of the week:
ELEVATOR GOING UP
Alcorn State: The Braves have won nine in a row, their longest streak since a 12-gamer in 1998-99, plus they’re breathing down the neck of SWAC leader Texas Southern.
Dayton: The Flyers have won nine of their last 10 and are now 21-5 overall and 12-2 in the A10. VCU comes to Dayton March 1, and that should decide the regular-season title.
Monmouth: The Hawks (23-5, 15-2) won their second consecutive MAAC regular-season championship by extending their school-record winning streak to 13. They are the first team to clinch a postseason (NCAA or NIT) berth.
North Carolina Central: Sam Jones U has won 10 in a row and leads the MEAC. It will still come down to three days in March to see if the Eagles make the NCAA Tournament.
North Dakota: Hey, this is a hockey school, but don’t look now, the (insert new-nickname-that-no-one-wants-to-use) have taken a half-game lead in the Big Sky after beating perennial conference power Weber State, 77-68, in Ogden, Utah. The “other ND’’ has won eight of nine.
Vermont: The Fightin’ Coppenraths set a school record by winning their 16th consecutive game and are 14-0 in America East, the first AE team to do that since Delaware in 1991-92.
Wichita State: The Shockers are building a lot of momentum with a 10-game winning streak, and will be a handful in the NCAA Tournament.
ESCALATOR GOING DOWN
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have lost three straight, including a home game to Illinois Saturday, and any hopes of an NCAA berth are pretty much gone.
Ohio State: It’s hard to believe how mediocre the Buckeyes have become. They’re no longer a threat in the Big Ten and will have their first losing season in the league under Thad Matta. They’ve lost five of their last six.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are fading, as they’ve lost three of four, including the last two to Arkansas and Vanderbilt, opponents
they need to beat if they’re going to be considered a top-notch team.
South Florida: Orlando Antigua was replaced as coach by veteran Murry Bartow in January, but it hasn’t made a difference, as the Bulls are 7-19 overall, 1-14 in the AAC, and have lost 16 of their last 18 games.
Texas: The Longhorns lost at the buzzer against Kansas State Saturday, and that’s pretty much how this miserable season has gone, as they’ve lost seven games by 3 points or fewer.
Virginia: The Cavaliers faced the best of the ACC last week — Duke and North Carolina — and were clearly not able to fully compete, with two decisive losses: 65-55 to Duke and 65-41 to Carolina.
Xavier: Injuries to guards Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett have ruined the season in Cincy; the Muskies have lost three in a row and are now just 7-7 in the Big East.
THIS WEEK’S FINAL FOUR: Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga, UCLA.
THIS WEEK’S NATIONAL CHAMPION: Kansas.