DURHAM — The Blue Devils dont spend any time talking about their national ranking.
But Dukes opponents sure do.
The team were playing against will use that, especially in the month of February and March, Mike Krzyzewski said. You dont use them, they use you. They get a chance to get a huge win. A resume win.
No. 2 Duke (22-2, 9-2 in the ACC) would be a nice resume win for Maryland (17-7, 5-6), a team that waltzed through its soft nonconference schedule before taking its lumps in conference play. The Terrapins havent played since last Sunday while the Blue Devils will cap what has been their toughest stretch in conference play.
Krzyzewski looks at the season in segments, a mindset that has allowed him to be a better coach, he said. And the current segment has been particularly challenging for Duke, as every opponent has had the scheduling edge.
Coming off a big win against N.C. State on Thursday, the Blue Devils headed to Boston College on Sunday for a classic trap game (the Eagles had last played Tuesday). The blizzard that dumped 24 inches on the greater Boston area delayed Dukes arrival until noon Sunday. The Blue Devils quickly went through their shootaround, walkthrough pregame meal and final scouting session at a quickened pace before arriving back at the arena. The Blue Devils, who came out flat, rallied for a 62-61 victory, and went straight back to the airport, landing in Durham at 1 a.m. Monday morning.
Up next was a date with rival North Carolina at 9 p.m. Wednesday. (The Tar Heels had played at Miami on Saturday.) After struggling for one half, Duke found its second wind to knock off the Tar Heels 73-68.
We were dog-tired out there, Rasheed Sulaimon said. We gave it our all, we sacrificed our bodies, each and every one of us did.
There is no rest for the weary though, as the trip to Maryland will be the final stop in this difficult segment. This could be the Blue Devils last trip to College Park there are no guarantees that Maryland will host Duke next year before leaving for the Big 10 so an already hostile environment in which players are routinely greeted with obscenities likely will reach another level. And waiting for Duke will be a Terrapins team that has had five days to prepare.
This is a hunker down type of week, and it started with the snowstorm in the Northeast, Krzyzewski said. How we do in those three games, if were able to do well, that says a lot.
Keeley 919-829-4556; Twitter @laurakeeley