Duke men's basketball is currently in a tough stretch, dropping to the No. 22 position in the AP poll after opening the season at No. 2. The Blue Zone is here to recap the rest of the poll:
Back-to-back crucial road losses for Duke
The Blue Devils found themselves on the rather depleting side of two stormed courts this week, following their unranked losses to Arkansas and Georgia Tech. While head coach Jon Scheyer might have led Duke to an undefeated home stretch in his first season as head coach, his road record provides a much weaker resume of 4-8.
The unranked Razorbacks simply outplayed Duke in the ACC/SEC Challenge, dominating in offensive production and competitive spirit. While the Blue Devils provided a glimpse of hope, cutting the lead to three with 18 seconds left, a determined Arkansas team sealed its victory with clutch free throws. Filipowski led the team with 26 points, but Duke’s performance was characterized by its weak shooting abilities. The team posted a field-goal percentage of 35.8% and a demoralizing 6-of-22 from 3-point range.
The Blue Devils' struggles against the zone was further exposed in the team's first ACC matchup of the season. The Yellow Jackets held Duke to three points during the first five minutes of play, allowing them to take a commanding 14-3 lead. While Georgia Tech controlled most of the game, opportunity struck in the final minutes of play when sophomore forward Mark Mitchell put the Blue Devils up 66-62. However, with emotions high, Mitchell’s behavior after the play earned himself a technical foul, washing away the team’s lead. Like the loss to the Razorbacks, Duke’s lack of offensive efficiency proved crucial to the loss, going 4-of-16 from 3-point range. To add insult to injury, sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor left the game early with an apparent leg injury. As a result of this week’s losses, the Blue Devils drop to No. 22 in the rankings.
Deja vu in Purdue
It’s deja vu all over again for the Boilermakers as Northwestern handed the team their first loss of the season. This marks the Wildcats’ second win over a No. 1-ranked team, its first also coming against Purdue back in February. While the Boilermakers led at the half, Northwestern clawed its way back into the competition, leading by two points with three seconds left in regulation. It was the Boilermakers’ dominant 7-foot-4 center in Zach Edey that advanced the game into overtime, holding onto hopes of preserving its No. 1 spot.
As the Big 10 matchup progressed into overtime, Purdue’s defense proved unable to control Wildcat guard Boo Buie, who put up seven points in overtime, contributing to a game total of 31. Although Edey continues to add impressive performances to his resume, putting up 35 points and 14 rebounds against the Wildcats, he can’t carry Purdue to a national championship on his own. The Boilermakers only lasted one week in the No. 1 spot, dropping to No. 4 in this week’s AP poll.
Battle of the Badger State
Purdue wasn’t the only top 5 team to be outplayed by an unranked opponent. Wisconsin handed its in-state rival, Marquette, its second loss of the season. The Golden Eagles entered the matchup as the No. 3 team in the nation, however, the standings didn’t phase Wofford transfer Max Klesmit. Klesmit led the Badgers to an early lead, all 21 of his points coming in the first half. While Marquette continued to pressure, going on a 17-2 run in the second half, the early deficit proved to be too big of a challenge for the Golden Eagles to overcome. Wisconsin led the entirety of the game, earning the Badgers a place in the top 25 this week. On the other hand, Marquette drops to the No. 8 position.
- North Carolina
- Florida Atlantic
- Colorado State
- Miami (FL)
- James Madison
- Texas A&M
- San Diego State
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