Duke's done as a basketball powerhouse. Sure, the Devils rack up wins, but when the Big East's fourth best team whips you on national TV, it's over.
Wait, that's from last season.
A trashing by Villanova last March brought out the "Duke's no longer great" stories, all of which had something along these lines: The Devils haven't won a title since 2001. They've gone five tournaments without reaching a Final Four. They can't compete with more athletic teams.
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
|Georgetown's Chris Wright blocks a shot from Duke's Nolan Smith.
Still, can we believe all of that when Duke gets drilled by Georgetown? How can the Hoyas shoot 71 percent against a team that's supposed to be one of the nation's best?
Maybe the Devils aren't as good as that gaudy record. Maybe the flaws that have plagued this team for the last five years – no frontcourt, too reliant on 3-points shooting – still exist for anyone who's paying attention.
As a result, maybe it's no fun to beat Duke anymore.
Now that's a statement. Whether you think Duke's still relevant to the national title picture, surely there's still something to beating the Devils, right?
Perhaps Duke isn't going to the Final Four every season – its stretch of seven in nine seasons still boggles the mind – but it's not as if Duke's fallen off the map. It's a testament to how high the program was that going five years without a Final Four could be seen as a bad thing. Or that not winning a title in the last eight tournaments somehow means the Devils suck.
Maybe they've lost that aura. Maybe the numbers do lie, and Duke just isn't an elite team anymore.
If that's true, it's bad for college hoops. Players and fans need those measuring sticks to serve as goals. And when the goal is to beat Duke – the team everyone loves to hate – it makes it that much more fun. It's like when baseball teams beat the Yankees. Everyone can get behind that idea of toppling the (mostly) unlikable goliath.
If Duke's not the measuring stick, who is? Does Kentucky fill that role? Or North Carolina? UCLA? Kansas?
Face it, Duke's like Nathan Jessep in "A Few Good Men." We need them on that wall. We want them on that wall.
Or things just aren't the same.
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