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Next Up - The Miami Hurricanes

Time: 7:00 || Venue: Bank United Center ||TV: ESPN

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Coach K is pumping his team up for Big Monday.
Coach K is pumping his team up for Big Monday.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Next up for Duke is Miami, and Jim Larranaga has been at Miami long enough to show that he's a masterful coach.

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His only issue in Boca Raton is that his talent has come in cycles. That's more or less resolved now and Miami is going to be a factor in the ACC for as long as he's there.

This year, Miami is off to a 15-3 start and is #15 in the country. There was the upset loss to Northeastern, one to Virginia and one to Clemson.

The 'Canes are led by Texas transfer Sheldon McClellan, who has prospered at Miami. He's averaging 16.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 1.9 apg.

Angel Rodriguez transferred over from Kansas State and the Puerto Rican native has prospered in Miami. He's a tough defensive guard and an outstanding team leader. He's pretty reliable in the clutch too.

Tonye Jekiri isn't a huge offensive force but the Nigerian big man is a tremendous rebounder and, like most of Larranaga's players, a good defender.

All three are seniors with vast experience. Kamari Murphy is a senior as well, as is Ivan Cruz Uceda.

Minutes at Miami almost entirely correspond to experience with the three freshmen. Only sophomore Chris Stowell plays less than the freshmen.

Without Amile Jefferson, still recovering from his broken foot, Duke has been vulnerable inside and you can expect Miami to work on the same weaknesses everyone else has: rebounding, a thin rotation, young players.

And Miami has an absolute advantage in experience.

However, it's not as if Duke hasn't been competitive. In the three losses, Duke fell to Clemson by five, with deep foul trouble, Notre Dame by four, with youthful mistakes at the end, and Syracuse by two, in a game where Duke could not penetrate, got few fast breaks and didn't shoot well - and still nearly won.

So while Miami can hit Duke with a lot of size, Duke can hit back with effort, with skill, and with rapidly improving young players.

Brandon Ingram has improved to the point where many think he could be the #1 pick in this summer's draft. Grayson Allen is one of the most daring guards in the country and he never hesitates to go hard to the basket.

Duke has competed well with Clemson, Notre Dame and Syracuse despite varying contributions from Luke Kennard, Derryck Thornton and even Matt Jones.

Jones is giving his all but he's being asked to do so much. The fact that he's doing about 85-90% of it is incredible.

The point is, Duke has competed at a very high level with various players sort of checking in and out. Everyone has had exceptional moments and everyone has had stretches of poor play.

But Duke's right there. If you can't admire that level of effort and heart, you're not really paying much attention. This is a team which has limited depth and  definite weaknesses. And in spite of it all, it competes and fights like hell.

In short, Coach K says Duke's a good but not great team. But we think he'd also tell you, if you asked, that it's a great team. They work hard and work together. They're fighting like hell. We prefer winning to losing obviously, but we really like this team. It may not be reflected in the won-lost record, in some ways, it's one of the best teams we've seen at Duke. All Duke fans should be proud.