The Wild, Wild, uh, Atlantic Coast
Nothing has put college basketball on its head more than the last week of ACC basketball. And the madness started and ended with the Tar Heels. Once the just-hand-them-the-trophy-now Tar Heels, North Carolina suddenly doesn't appear as unbeatable. But this team is still crazy good, and even the best teams hit rough patches along the way some times. UNC's loss to Boston College last Sunday hit the basketball world like an earthquake, with powerful aftershocks that rippled throughout the nation when the Eagles followed up one of the school's biggest wins in recent history with one of its most deflating in a defeat to Harvard three days later.
Then Wake Forest beat North Carolina Sunday, and the school's fall from grace is complete. Well, that might sound too harsh, but if you consider just how high a pedestal people had placed the Tar Heels, at least now they seem a little more mortal. Not to say they can't still win the national title. They can, of course. But if the chase for this year's banner wasn't already wide-open, at least now the conversation surrounding it will be.
And don't forget about No. 10 Clemson. Other than No. 1 Pitt and No. 2 Wake Forest, the Tigers are the only remaining undefeated team in the land. They haven't exactly slain any giants yet, but that could change soon when they face the Demon Deacons Sunday and then North Carolina three days later. Or they, too, could receive a reality check a la Roy Williams and Co. Only time will tell.
The Mannings, Mel Kiper Jr. and Duke University
So for the first time since 2006, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback won't name Duke head coach David Cutcliffe as one of his most influential mentors. With brothers Peyton Manning and Eli Manning hoisting the Lombardi trophy in the last two years, Cutcliffe wielded a pretty succinct and powerful pick-up line for recruits that probably sounded something like, "Hey, see those guys? I can do that for you." And it didn't take long for players, quarterbacks specifically, to ask for the dotted line. Arizona-native Sean Renfree, who had earned a spot in the most exclusive, respected quarterback camp in the nation in high school, elected to come to Duke despite holding offers from a number of more established programs.
The Mannings may have both lost in the playoffs this weekend, but it's likely Cutcliffe will continue to use that one-liner for some time to come. I mean, it's a good one, to be sure.
Former linebacker Michael Tauiliili, who was a staple member of the Duke defense from almost the very moment he stepped on campus as a freshman, has earned a chance to show off his skills to NFL scouts in the annual East-West Shrine Game this Saturday in his hometown of Houston, Texas. The First Team All-ACC selection will most likely not hear his name called on the first day of the draft, but depending on performances in events such as the Shrine Game and perhaps the NFL Combine, he may elevate his stock enough to earn a late-round selection. At the very least, he has a solid chance of being signed as an undrafted free agent somewhere. If the last four years have taught us anything about this man, though, it's that what he may lack in size and speed, he more than makes up for in work ethic and dedication. That is to say, if any undersized, underestimated linebacker is going to work his way into an NFL jersey, then it's Michael Tauiliili.
Maneuvering Class Schedules
During this awkward two-week period that kicks off every semester—you know, when you have to go to class, but not really at the same time—it's important to get that perfect schedule. The one that let's you sleep in enough. The one that doesn't require constant back-and-forth trips between East and West campus. And the one that doesn't conflict with Duke Basketball.
So, we're here to help. For this next week, here is when you should get your work done and when you might want to consider to skip class.
Library Friday—You read that right. I know it's not ideal, but with the weekend ahead, it's damn near necessary. Saturday night has such unmissable events as Duke's matchup with No. 13 Georgetown at 2p.m. Then No. 2 Wake Forest versus No. 10 Clemson at 3:30p.m. Then, and this is for the truely Blue Blooded, Tauiliili and the Shrin game are on ESPN2 at 4p.m. And if you don't need directly Duke-related reasons to watch sports, then there's the three other games Saturday between ranked teams, including No. 1 Pitt's road test at No. 20 Louisville.
So just procrastinate till Sunday, right? But then there are the NFL Conference Championships.... Yeah, see you in Perkins Friday.
Might-Not, Night Classes—Got late ones Monday and Wednesday? Hmm, well, this is admittedly cutting close for those with class tonight, but be warned: the No. 10 Duke women's basketball team are taking on fierce rival No. 13 Maryland tonight. The men's squad face-off with Georgia Tech Wednesday night, which shouldn't prove to be too difficult, but if you're all nervous and worried about the Blue Devils during your class, are you really participating to the fullest? Wouldn't it be to everyone else's benefit if you just sat this one out and didn't sap energy from the whole classes' vibe?
Alas, these are the wayward rationalizations of a second-semester senior. Follow this advice at your own risk.
Duke by the Numbers
Number of hours Georgetown's return bus trip will take - 6.5
Explanation: The Hoyas visit Duke the weekend prior to what's expected to be one of the largest public gatherings in the nation's history—the presidential inauguration. Estimates of more than four million people are supposed to be descending on the nation's capital for Tuesday's big event. The Hoyas will be driving back home Saturday night, so it won't be nearly as bad as the day of, but it won't be pleasant. Maybe the politically inclined Blue Devil players might be hop on for a ride. Maybe?
Number of tackles by Michael Tauiliili in the Shrine Game vs. Duke's margin of victory over Georgetown
Obviously, this is a tough one. On the one hand, Tauiliili, though a tackle machine, might not see that many minutes considering how these types of games are usually played. I'd say he could register anywhere between zero and ten. On the other hand, Duke could actually lose to the Hoyas, resulting in a negative margin of victory, and as us Duke whiz kids all know, minus-numbers are lower than zero. And Duke could blow them out, win by 12 or more, and Tauiliili stands no chance. This probably leans in favor of the Duke-Georgetown game, but it wouldn't be the first time if Tauiliili manages to impress.