It’s no secret that college basketball’s had a rough few months. But from the looks of last night, Duke haters are about to have a rough few months of their own.
That’s because Coach K and company lived up to their top ranking and beat Michigan State 88-81 last night in a battle of 1 v. 2. And they did it without Marvin Bagley IIII, the potential number one pick in the draft, for most of the game due to a poked eye.
If you enjoyed Duke losing to South Carolina in the second round last year, I hope you cherished those memories because this crew doesn’t look like it’ll run out of gas in the tournament. This crew has a point guard and they have one hell of a stacked roster.
I know it’s just one game and it’s still early November, but if they’re pulling away from Michigan State the way they did without Bagley, the rest of college basketball is in for a tough season.
Oh, and it’s not just Duke that’s back. Guess who else is back? Grayson Allen. And if last night is anything to go by, 2017-2018 might just be the Grayson Allen Comeback Tour. And that’s even worse news for Duke haters, because there’s never been a guy who Duke haters hated more than Grayson Allen. And he just went for a career-high 37 points, 7 for 11 from three, against the number two team in the country.
There was the bomb before halftime and then not one, but two clutch threes in the final 2:30 as Duke pulled away. On a team loaded with NBA talent, he’ll get the most run because there isn’t a more polarizing figure in the game. You won’t be able to escape him because he’ll be on the best team and they’ll be on TV more than a particular sitcom starring Jerry Mathers.
And yes, I know it seems like Grayson started his career with Jon Scheyer. But it only feels that way. He didn’t actually step on campus at the same time as Greg Paulus and Bobby Hurley wasn’t setting him up for corner threes. Allen and The Alaskan Assassin were never in the same backcourt. His improvement as a player isn’t because he went up against Shelden Williams in practice every day. So don’t come in here with your lame Johnny Dawkins, Cherokee Parks, Eric Meek resets. He’s a senior. He’s only been there for four years. It only feels like he’s been there forever because he dropped 16 as a freshman in the title game against Wisconsin back in 2015.
And no, games like last night aren’t going to make people love him. But I’m not totally sure that’s what he’s looking for or that it would happen even if he wanted that. Throw on the Duke jersey and drop daggers, and you’re going to be hated. Ask J.J. Redick. Throw on the Duke jersey, drop daggers, and get involved in multiple tripping incidents, and you’re definitely going to be hated. Ask Grayson Allen. And there’s no number of threes that will erase that. If anything, it’ll just make people hate him more.
You add Bagley, who looked impressive before getting his eye gouged, into this offense, get the other freshmen more experience, and look the hell out. Again, it’s a long season. Injuries happen. Guys fall into and out of slumps, but if you’re asking me to pick a winner right now, it’s Coach K and Duke. And if you’re asking me to pick someone who’s going to struggle this year, it’s anyone who hates Coach K, Duke, and Grayson Allen.