Sun Jan 25
|KenPom Predicted Win %||
New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden)
Quinn Cook (6'2", PG, Sr.); Rasheed Sulaimon (6'4", G, Jr.)Amile Jefferson (6'9", F, Jr.)
Jahlil Okafor (6'11", C); Tyus Jones (5'11, PG); Justice Winslow (6'6", F); Grayson Allen (6'4", G)
Jabari Parker (6'8", F); Rodney Hood (6'8", F)
It's the Duke Blue Devils, finally back on the schedule - and in January, no less, to bring some buzz to Madison Square Garden.
Last year, Duke fueled debate about their greatness as they pounded weak teams and lost to high-end Kansas and Arizone. But a scare by Vermont and a loss to Notre Dame proved that the Blue Devils were entertaining*, but not great; and two players who carried the team offensively went to the NBA Draft.
But of course, they're Duke, and even when a player-of-the-year candidate and two NBA Draft picks leave, Mike Krzyzewski reloads.
This time with Jahlil Okafor follows Jabari Parker's path from Chicago; he is touted as the best college center in the past ten-fifteen years even before he plays his first game. Ultra-talented floor-leader Tyus Jones joins as well, expected to play a huge role at point guard.
Duke also rings back steady and effective Quinn Cook (120.2 offensive rating - 117th in the country; assisted on 27.7% of his teammates’ shots while on the floor, 127th in the country) along some players who still have room to grow and be consistent in Rasheed Sulaimon, Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye.
If this team can figure out what went so wrong with the defense last year - Duke’s worst defense in over ten years, particularly shoddy inside the arc - this team can be a monster.
The Blue Devils should contend for the national title... if they don't lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to a Mercer-like team again. This is the non-conference matchup St. John’s fans have thirsted for, and fans hope the Johnnies can provide a good game.
* That game at Syracuse, though, was incredible fun.