With Duke struggling in this bizarre basketball season, the question now seems to be: can the Blue Devils make the NCAA Tournament?
And the first answer is, well yes. And the second answer is that no matter what else happens, you can’t say absolutely not until the ACC Tournament is over and the bids go out.
But yes, this is an atypical season.
Canceling three non-conference games didn’t help. Duke would likely be 8-4 which would look a lot better than the current 5-4.
Thing is though that while there’s plenty of madness to this season there’s also lots of method and the main method to success is experience.
Teams with experienced groups are in much better shape than young teams are.
Duke has had young teams for a decade or so now and the process is managed very intelligently.
The players come to campus in the summer to get acculturated athletically and academically. In some years, when allowed, international trips are scheduled to start practice earlier.
Individual workouts are carefully structured and monitored and the returning players help the new guys get the hang of things.
Then there’s exhibition season, the Champions Classic for an early tough game and then the Big Ten Challenge.
By that time a lot of work has already been done. Roles sometimes have to be sifted and sorted, but most of the work is done.
It’s not like that this year because of the pandemic and there’s no way to make that up.
So we’ll just have to be patient and perhaps forgiving.
As this most strange season grinds on, things may even out. Talent and good coaching will out.
Until then, we can take some comfort from the struggles in Chapel Hill and most of all Lexington, where John Calipari’s Wildcats are just 4-9 and behind Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi State and Florida.