Tag Archives: Duke Blue Devils

Trial By Conference Tourney

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, we have almost reached the promise land of the college basketball season. We are just a few days away from what I call Judgement Day, and what mere mortals call Selection Sunday. But before we have teams find out their region, we have what I consider to be the most exciting week of the year, Conference Tournament week. Let’s start in the ACC, and as always, my picks come at the very end.

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ACC-  When you think of the ACC nowadays, 96% of the time you think of them as the deepest conference in college basketball. This year is no different, with plenty of teams in the running, there is only one favorite in my opinion. That’s the returning conference champs, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The Heels are hot at the right time, and are the number 1 seed in the tournament. Justin Jackson is, in my opinion, the most reliable player in the conference. The Heels will look to him a lot when the time comes; I also think Joel Berry will be looked to when the time comes.

Also, don’t count out Duke. The Blue Devils with Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen are bound for a third match-up with Carolina. The THIRD team I think that could make waves is Virginia. The Cavaliers led by London Perrantes (yes he is still there) could surprise a lot of people. They have the first round bye then would take on Notre Dame in the third round. The match-up with the Irish is a favorable one for the Cavs.

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Big East- No one, I repeat no one is beating Villanova. The Wildcats will repeat as Big East champs and move onto being a 1 seed in the tourney. That was easy.

during the game at Allen Fieldhouse on February 1, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas.

Big 12-The Big 12 tournament has been all Kansas as of late. The Jayhawks have won 7 of the Big 12 Tournaments since 2006, as well as 14 straight Big 12 regular season championships. I think that makes the Bill Self’s Jayhawks the favorite.

Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson are a tough duo to beat in the Big 12, and if Devonte’ Graham is on, then the Big 12 is in major trouble.

The only team I think that should at least scare Kansas is West Virginia. Bob Huggins looks to have a team that could stand toe to toe with the Jayhawks. The two are on a collision course for a third meeting; the teams split the two this season. The Mountaineers will need a big tourney out of Nathan Adrian and Jevon Carter; those two are on the warpath right now. I hope we get this third game, it could be a great finale to the Big 12 this season.

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Big 10- Yikes, well I don’t know folks, I have seen wide-open conferences and then I saw this year’s Big 10. I do not like the number 1 team in Purdue. The Boilermakers don’t impress me, I really don’t know why but I am not impressed by them. Also with this tourney, unpredictability comes so often it’s absolutely ridiculous.

I like Maryland this year, which does not come to a surprise to readers who have read my stuff on the Terps before. Led by Melo Trimble, this could be the Terps year to really make a run. Yes they lack Jake Layman and Rasheed Sulaimon, but along with Damonte Dodd, freshmen Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan, Trimble and the Terps look good.

Another one of the favorites have to be Wisconsin. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig (both journeymen) look poised to get the Badgers back to the elite. They would run into Purdue, but I like them matching up against Purdue in any tourney style game.

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Pac-12 The Pac-12 is back, and by back I mean the top 4 teams should dominate in this conference tournament. I like UCLA and Oregon based off their guard play. It is no question that Lonzo Ball (UCLA) and Dillon Brooks (Oregon) are two of the top guards in the nation and are on the road to a showdown in the Pac-12 title game.

UCLA has plenty of weapons though. Besides Ball, you have TJ Leaf and Bryce Alford who could be found taking some big shots down the stretch. The one other team that could be found deep in this tourney is the Arizona Wildcats.

The Wildcats, who has Allonzo Trier back halfway through the season, could be the team to beat either UCLA or Oregon. Trier and big man Lauri Markkanen could be what the Cats use to get to the final against the Ducks. One of these three will most likely win the conference, and what could be one of the best finals in the history of the conference.

during the first half at Rupp Arena on January 21, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.

SEC– Kentucky is the clear cut favorite in my opinion. When the Cats get the top spot in the SEC tourney, they rarely, if ever, lose. Coach Cal and Malik Monk are looking like they are on a path to a deep NCAA tourney run. Monk will need De’Aaron Fox as his healthy tag partner in this tourney. When Fox if healthy, he takes a lot of the spotlight off of Monk. Derek Willis will need to be clutch from outside the arch as well.

Florida is the only other team I see taking this conference. But with their path to the final including a possible Arkansas or Missouri matchup, I think the Gators could be in trouble. They’re in contention but I don’t think they are a credible threat to Kentucky.

ACC- UNC over Virginia

Big East- Villanova over Providence

Big 12- Kansas over West Virginia

Big 10- Maryland over Wisconsin

Pac 12- UCLA over Oregon

SEC- Kentucky over Missouri

Those are my picks and I am sticking to them. Next time you here from me, we will be knee deep in the NCAA tourney. So I will probably have pulled my hair out because my bracket is busted.

So try to stay handsome everyone, and happy tourney season!

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Grayson Allen: Public Enemy Number 1

Every few years, there is one guy at Duke that every person in the college basketball community can point their finger at. They will say things like “I hate that guy” or “that fella’ is a dirty player”. You may be saying, “Jack, I bet you’re a Duke hater, so you agree with this”. I actually don’t, I am a fan of the guy I am writing about today. So yes, label me a Grayson Allen fan.

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To me, Grayson Allen is the epitome of the Duke Blue Devils. He is an emotional, killer basketball player, who certainly pushes the envelope night after night. Personally, he is the college basketball version of Brad Marchand. A terrific player, who cannot help but be controversial and slightly dirty from time to time, but man can the kid play.  Allen has been suspended a number of times for tripping, and rightfully so, but it just proves the point that some of the best are dirty.

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Allen’s numbers are down from last season. He’s averaging 15 a night instead of 21 he had in his sophomore year. Rightfully so, when you have talented guys like Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum in the lineup right alongside you. Allen proved his worth the other night against North Carolina. Allen dropped 25 points, 7 of 12 from 3 point range, and then fouled out. A pretty good night for the junior, and let me say this, I watched that entire game and Allen hit a handful of big 3’s. The kid has the clutch gene.

Allen is the new Christian Laettner. He is probably nowhere close to as hated as Laettner, but he is damn close. He joins the long line of hated Dukies like JJ Reddick, Shane Battier, Kyle Singler, Grant Hill, the list goes on. But for this decade, I have to say he may be the most hated Blue Devil to date. He impresses me, and it all goes back to the National Title performance. The kid took the game into his hands, brought Duke back, and did the job right.

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Now, Allen will probably be back for his senior year. But that torch of the hated Dukie could be passed by years end. Luke Kennard is the one waiting off to the side. Kennard is nowhere near as controversial, but this kid can play. Kennard is averaging 20 a night and has played in every game for the Blue Devils this season. He has a killer grin that the folks over on Chapel Hill will hate when Allen is gone. Kennard, I will say it, may even be better than Allen. We just don’t know that yet.

Duke is a favorite heading into the tournament. If they escape an early upset, they should be a force to be wrecking with. With public enemy number 1 in Allen leading the way and Kennard by his side, Coach K’s team may be unstoppable.

Until next week, stay handsome my friends.

Freshman Ruling The World

As I sat in my TV room with a blanket and a nice cup of hot chocolate, I said to myself during the UNC-Kentucky game, “Freshman are ruling this world”. And the moment came in the dying seconds as one of the best players (a freshman) for Kentucky hit a dagger 3, crushing the hopes of North Carolina. I was never a fan of the kids going right into the draft out of high school, and I think we all win now because of this. This week, I’m going to take a look at a couple of these guys who are just 18 years old, and who are proving to be the top guy for some of the country’s top programs.

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Let’s start with the kid who stomped on the Tarheel’s hearts on Saturday afternoon. That kid is none other than Malik Monk. Monk dropped 47 points in Vegas, and looked unstoppable. Truth be told, if he goes to the NBA after this season, I think he goes number 1 overall. The kid can step back from behind the arc, and take it to the hoop. He is the total package and could possibly have a chance to steal the Wooden Award. Also, it helps that you have Coach Cal as the one driving the bus. He usually does pretty well with the young players. Watch out for Monk in March, he is a human highlight reel.

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Speaking of highlight reel’s, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is also a name to know when it comes to talented freshman. Once known as the best passer in high school basketball, Ball brought that right to UCLA. Looking like Jason Kidd, Ball is averaging nine helpers a night, and along with that, he’s putting up 16 points a night as well. Ball was a key piece to the win against Kentucky earlier this season. As long as he is playing, the Bruins could be the team to beat out west. UCLA has a ton of talent and could go places, Lonzo Ball is the one who can lead the way.

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One other name I am going to throw out there is Jayson Tatum for Duke. Tatum is one of the most skilled players on the wing in all of college basketball. I think if Coach K is smart (he is, no shot taken there), he tries to talk Tatum into staying for another year or two. But that probably won’t happen. The kid is a versatile forward and will most likely go inside the top 10 of the draft. He will keep Duke atop the ACC this season and will make them a force come tourney time. I like the way Tatum plays, and at 6 foot 8, he’s going to win some big battles down in the trenches.

Until we meet again, try to stay handsome.