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THE CASE FOR DUKE

No, the Blue Devils aren’t the highest-seeded team in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils aren’t the most talented team, either, and they certainly don’t have the most depth.

So why will Duke win the ACC Tournament this weekend? Because it has Coach K, and nobody else does.

Krzyzewski started the season short-handed. Then five Duke players who have started games this season lost time to injury. To make matters worse, Duke faced one of the nation’s three most difficult schedules.

But despite all that, Duke is 22-5 and is comfortably a top-10 team. And if Krzyzewski can coach that successfully through all that adversity, the ACC Tournament should be a cake-walk.

Krzyzewski’s postseason record is one of the strongest in NCAA history. Over the past 25 years, Coach K has won three national championships, made 10 Final Fours and won eight ACC Tournament titles, all while facing a laundry list of obstacles that make this year look easier than a Jim Harrick, Jr.-administered final exam. In 1991, Duke beat one of the greatest teams in NCAA history on its way to the National Championship. In 2001, Krzyzewski led Duke to ACC and NCAA Tournament triumphs despite the extended loss of Carlos Boozer.

In addition, Duke is as healthy as it has been all season long; only Sean Dockery will miss the ACC Tournament. But the Blue Devils appear to have done well enough without him, trouncing Miami and barely losing to No. 2 North Carolina on the road. And if any team in the country can deal with injuries, it’s the Blue Devils.

Duke’s talent, though overshadowed by the star power of Wake Forest and North Carolina, is nothing to sniff at—the Blue Devils still sport five McDonald’s All-Americans, freshman DeMarcus Nelson, juniors J.J. Redick, Shavlik Randolph and Dockery and senior Daniel Ewing.

But despite all that Duke enters the tournament as an underdog for arguably the first time since 1998. Overlooked and overly motivated for the postseason, Duke will win the ACC Tournament yet again on its way to a deep NCAA Tournament run.

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