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The Devil’s in the Details: Duke baseball surges with first sweep of Clemson in 71 years

<p>Matt Mervis has been a huge part of Duke baseball's recent success.</p>

Matt Mervis has been a huge part of Duke baseball's recent success.

They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details—and numbers.  

Each week, the Blue Zone will dissect five key numbers from last week's action in Duke sports, whether they be historic or underwhelming. This week, let the numbers take you inside baseball’s recent hot streak, men’s lacrosse’s consistent success against the country’s elite and women’s tennis’ struggles against North Carolina.


After a slow start to the ACC season, baseball has been on an absolute tear as of late, winning 10 of its past 11 contests. The run has included sweeps of Pittsburgh and Clemson—the Blue Devils’ first sweep of the Tigers since 1948—as well as a huge non-conference win against No. 16 Texas Tech. Duke’s resurgence nearly echoes that of the 2016 Blue Devils, who also overcame a rough start with an end-of-the-year revival. That team made it all the way to the NCAA Regionals—the program’s first regional bid in over 50 years. With just under a month left in the regular season, this year’s Duke squad will look to make it three NCAA Regional appearances in the past four years.


Men’s lacrosse has had some rough losses this season, from that season-opening blunder against High Point to a tough defeat at North Carolina. But when it comes to facing the best of the best, Duke has yet to disappoint. Following an overtime win against unranked Marquette, the third-ranked Blue Devils finished the regular season a perfect 5-0 in top-10 matchups, with their most recent victory in that department coming against then-No. 4 Virginia two weeks ago. Now, Duke will turn its focus to the ACC tournament, where it will open against No. 11 Notre Dame this Saturday. 


Women’s tennis has been utterly dominant this season. That is, unless the third-ranked Blue Devils are matched up against in-state nemesis No. 2 North Carolina. Duke is 23-3 this year, with all three defeats coming to those same Tar Heels—the most recent loss coming in the ACC championship, gifting North Carolina its fourth consecutive conference title. Both squads will now head to Orlando, Fla. for the NCAA tournament. A potential fourth matchup between the two rivals in the Final Four looks like a distinct possibility.


Women’s golf entered its own ACC tournament looking to three-peat as conference champions. Instead, No. 2 Duke finished the weekend with a disappointing third-place finish, falling behind No. 3 Wake Forest and No. 9 Florida State. This marks just the second time this decade the Blue Devils have finished outside the top two in the ACC championships. Duke now enters the NCAA tournament looking to improve upon a quarterfinals exit from last year.


While the men’s team has played its best lacrosse against its toughest competition, the women’s team has appeared to be a near polar opposite. With its loss to No. 3 North Carolina this past Saturday, No. 18 Duke finished the regular season 0-7 against top-10 opponents. Those seven defeats accounted for all of the Blue Devils’ losses, while only one of the team’s nine victories came against a ranked team. Duke does have an opportunity to add to that total and put an end to that winless stain against the top 10 when it matches up against No. 6 Notre Dame in the ACC quarterfinals Wednesday.


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