If Dukes history is the precedent, the rest of the newly expanded ACC is in trouble.
The Blue Devils have a chance to be historically good in 2013-14. Mike Krzyzewski has taken Duke to the NCAA tournament 29 times in his 33 seasons. He has lost in the round of eight only twice: last season to Louisville (the eventual champion) and in 1998 to Kentucky (the eventual champion).
The season following their only other Final Eight loss, the Blue Devils rolled through the ACC to the tune of 19-0, including the conference tournament.
With the addition of Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh three Big East teams who made the NCAA tournament last season the ACC will be considerably tougher than it was 15 years ago, especially with both North Carolina and Virginia with strong teams for next season.
Perfection, while unlikely for this Duke group, is not out of the question. With the return of five regular contributors and the addition of freshman Jabari Parker and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood, Duke is poised to make kindling of the 15-team ACC in 2014.
Guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon will have to elevate their games from last seasons growth, and Parker and Hood will have to be as good as advertised, but theres no doubt the Blue Devils, (14-4 in the ACC last season) are the conferences team to beat.
UNC, led by P.J. Hairston, and Virginia, which could go 11-deep, will be the best of the returning ACC schools. The Big East combination of Syracuse, a Final Four team in 13, and Notre Dame will be Dukes main competition for the regular-season title.
Maryland, in its 61st and final ACC season, has the potential to return to the NCAA tournament after a three-year hiatus. Jamie Dixon has led Pittsburgh to the NCAA tournament nine times in 10 seasons. Despite some personnel turnover, the Panthers should give the ACC seven entrants in the 68-team field.
Miami, which won both the regular season and tournament titles in 13, and N.C. State are in rebuilding mode as both Jim Larranaga and Mark Gottfried enter their third seasons.
The hopes for Florida States season turned when super recruit Andrew Wiggins chose Kansas over the Seminoles. Wake Forest, Boston College and Georgia Tech are hoping recent rebuilding efforts pay off.
And then theres Virginia Tech and Clemson, both in for very long seasons. About the only good news for either is neither has to play Duke, UNC, Syracuse or Notre Dame twice in their 18-game schedules.
Staying out of Dukes way will be a key for the rest of the ACC. Going back to 99, Duke lost a first-team All-ACC player (Roshown McLeod) and 37 percent of its offense from 98, a team that went 15-1 in the ACC.
The Blue Devils got exponentially better in 99 with the health of forward Elton Brand and the emergence of Shane Battier and Corey Maggette, two athletic forwards who excelled on the perimeter.
This Duke group loses a first-team All-ACC player (Mason Plumlee) and 62 percent of its offense. Theres no commensurate post component on this team like Brand but with the addition of Parker and Hood the Blue Devils will be more dynamic and athletic, especially on defense.
Before Dukes 85-63 loss to Louisville in the NCAA tournament, Krzyzewski talked about the potential of the new ACC with its new configuration.
I want ACC basketball to be the best, Krzyzewski said then. And we have a chance to do that again.
Krzyzewskis team has the same opportunity to be the best this season.
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