Duke losing is typically a big deal regardless of the circumstances. Because, as my friend and colleague Pete Gillen once famously said, Duke is Duke.
And yet Monday night’s loss didn’t feel like a big deal.
It was actually expected.
Miami opened as a 3-point favorite. By tipoff, the Hurricanes were a 4-point favorite. And by the final buzzer, they had scored 80 points and held Duke to 69, meaning the Blue Devils have now lost four of their past five games and are suddenly on the verge of falling completely out of the Associated Press poll next Monday for the first time since 2007.
Duke is 15-6 overall, 4-4 in the ACC.
That league record represents Duke’s worst start through eight ACC games since 1996.
The Blue Devils finished 18-13 that season.
Simply put, Duke’s fall from No. 5 in the preseason AP poll to likely out of next week’s AP poll is rooted in the fact that the Blue Devils lost their top four scorers from last season to graduation (Quinn Cook) or early entry into the NBA Draft (Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones), and then the Blue Devils lost last season’s fifth-leading scorer (Amile Jefferson) to a foot injury after nine games this season. When Jefferson went down, Duke was 8-1 with wins over Indiana and VCU. Since Jefferson went down, Duke is 7-5 with losses to Utah, Clemson, Notre Dame, Syracuse and, most recently, Miami.
“[Miami is] better than us,” Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
And the wild thing is that he’s right.
Miami is better than Duke.
And a bunch of other teams are, too.