And then there were none:
St. John's 55, Pittsburgh 50.
Georgetown 87, Duke 84.
Tennessee 80, Florida 76.
I drafted a post entitled "The undefeated" stating my long-held belief that undefeated teams should always be ranked ahead of teams with losses, regardless of schedule strength. (It has to do with judging the teams from the perspective of those who play the games rather than those who schedule them.) Today's events made that post moot, at least for this season. (Over in women's hoops, the last three undefeated teams will be ranked 1-2-3.)
I'm not exactly crying tears over Duke losing, nor am I trying to rationalize the loss. Duke fans do the latter to an annoying extent. Look for comments like:
"It was never our goal to go undefeated. We have to think big picture."
"The good news is that we got that loss in a non-conference game."
"The stress of being the first ever 18-0 Duke team is over. Now we can focus."
"What's important is that this team learned from its mistakes."
The fact is that Duke lost, and losing tends to suck. Hey, it happens. I'm no great analyst of the game, but I have noticed in past Duke seasons that some mistakes get repeated, and that when an opponent comes up with a successful game plan, that same plan can be used successfully by future opponents. This concerns me.
This is a Duke team that, on paper, should have little difficulty winning a national title. (I realize that Connecticut* is also loaded with talent, but they lack the experienced leadership of the 1999 and 2004 champs.) Unlike last season's overachievers, this team has frontcourt size and depth (though underutilized), and an abundance of backcourt playmakers. Simply put, this team cannot overachieve. A few good teams can beat Duke, but they shouldn't.
I hereby issue my expectation that Duke will end their season with nothing short of an NCAA title. Great teams answer that call.
* Abbreviated UConn, not UCONN. What the hell is that? What do the O, N, and N stand for in this fantasy acronym? Put your hands up and step away from the caps lock.