New #1 this week — how far will Duke fall?

Not that this concerns the Huskies, but there will be a new #1 this week, after Duke lost to Florida State last week.

A couple of weeks ago, #4 UConn went on the road, and lost to #6 Pitt.  Arguably, #6 should have been favored to beat a visiting #4 — in other words, this is a game that UConn could have been expected to lose.  The Huskies did lose, and were knocked back 4-5 spots, depending on which poll you looked at.  Perhaps the fact that they needed overtime to defeat unranked South Florida played into it.

This week, Duke was upset by unranked Florida State, also on the road.  Prior to that game, the Blue Devils struggled at home against unranked Maryland, and later struggled against woeful Virginia, trailing by 9 points part way through the second half before pulling away.

If a loss to #6 on the road costs you 4-5 spots, a loss to an unranked team ought to drop you more.  But this is Duke, and I’m betting they fall no farther than #3 overall, and they’ll still garner a lot of #1 votes.   I really wish that someone with more time on their hands would research this, because I can’t remember Duke every dropping more than 2 spots off of a single loss.  It’s nearly impossible for them to lose a #1 tournament seed, especially this season, unless they lose 2 or more in a row.  I expect them to fall behind #2 Ohio State and #3 Kansas, but they’ll stay ahead of #4 Syracuse, #5 Pitt, and #6 San Diego State, all of whom are ahead of Duke in the RPI — because Duke never drops more than 2 spots.

See, people still believe they’re number one, even without Kyrie Irving — they must believe that Duke is one of the great team of all time with Irving, if they believe they’re number one without him.  I don’t get it — this is a team that lost Jon Scheyer, a very good, very experienced player; lost Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas, who despite wasting 3 1/2 years of their respective careers played very well down the stretch last season — and this  year’s team, even minus Irving, is still #1?

What will also be interesting — #4 Syracuse travels to Pittsburgh to take on the #5 Panthers tomorrow — shouldn’t they keep their positions is Syracuse wins and swap positions if Pitt wins?  But you just know that, even if they don’t lose again this week, the loser will get punished in the polls.

Duke is in a cakewalk to a #1 seed this season, because it’s nearly impossible to believe they can lose two in a row in a very week ACC — they followed up the loss to Fla. State with a home game against a really awful Virginia team, for example, and it’s hard to find a spot on their schedule where they have two tough games in a row.  Look at the Blue Devils’ next 10 games: #103 NC State, #257 Wake Forest, #35 Boston College, #15 St. John’s, #91 Maryland, #103 NC State, #21 North Carolina, #29 Miami, #133 Virginia, and #170 Georgia Tech.

The Huskies, on the other hand, have games in the next two weeks against #10 Villanova, #36 Tennessee, #69 Marquette, #41 Louisville, and #3 Syracuse, followed by #92 Seton Hall, #15 St. John’s, #100 Providence, #7 Georgetown, and #41 Louisville.

I’m not trying to say that UConn is better than Duke this season — and certainly not saying that Duke stinks — just that you can count on Duke as a #1 seed, whether they deserve it or not.


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