99 in 99: #1 Duke Blue Devils

Duke NCAA Champions

The defending champs are more stacked than J-Woww’s chest.  That is saying something considering they lose three starters from last year’s team.  But the Duke Blue Devils have experience, size, athletes, shooters, and one of the best coaches in the game in Mike Krzyzewski.

The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” has been ranking the 72 power conference college basketball teams and top 27 mid-majors for the last three-plus months and has reached the top spot.  Click here if you missed any of our in-depth previews.

By: David Kay

Duke Blue Devils (T-1st, 13-3 in ACC, 35-5 overall)

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Miles Plumlee (Jr)/Ryan Kelly (So)
PF: Mason Plumlee (So)/Josh Hairston (Fr)
SF: Kyle Singler (Sr)/Casey Peters (Sr)
SG: Nolan Smith (Sr)/Seth Curry (So)
PG: Kyrie Irving (Fr)/Andre Dawkins (So)/Tyler Thornton (Fr)

Gone: PG-Jon Scheyer, PF-Lance Thomas, C-Brian Zoubek, SF-Olek Czyz (transfer-Nevada)

Kyle Singler Duke2010-2011 Outlook:
Kyle Singler could have very easily left Duke after winning the national championship last season and been a first round pick in the NBA Draft.  Instead, he chose to return for his senior season where he will be a National Player of the Year candidate and have the Blue Devils as the team to beat.

Along with Singler, senior Nolan Smith also returns to provide some invaluable experience.  Smith will anchor an extremely talented and deep backcourt that will also feature highly touted freshman Kyrie Irving, Liberty transfer Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, and Tyler Thornton.

Smith is capable of playing either guard spot but will start at the two alongside Irving.  Like his older brother Stephen, Seth Curry is a sharpshooter who can score from anywhere on the floor.  Dawkins graduated early from high school and arrived a year early at Duke last season.  He should be improved as sophomore and can also stroke it from the outside.  Thornton might be hard-pressed to find playing time in what is arguably the best collection of guards in the country.

Brian Zoubek was not the most talented big man in college basketball but was effective in his role as a rebounder and someone to take up space in the middle.  This year the Blue Devils will be more skilled in the frontcourt with the Plumlee brothers, Ryan Kelly, and Josh Hairston.  NBA scouts love Mason Plumlee’s versatility and he is expected to take a nice step in his sophomore season.  Also expect to see Coach K. to use Singler at the four at times as he utilizes a three-guard line-up with his talented backcourt.

Just about everybody is picking Duke to repeat as national champions and you can understand why.  They have no weaknesses and are my pick to once again be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.

Player to Watch: Kyrie Irving, PG

Irving arrives at Duke with incredibly high expectations as he was one of the top ranked players in the 2010 class.  He is a true point guard who knows how to distribute the basketball but is also a talented scorer when needed.  Irving helped lead the U.S. U-18 team to gold at the World Championships this summer and could be a one-and-done if he is as good as advertised.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/23 vs. Marquette (CBE Classic)
11/24 vs. Kansas State/Gonzaga (CBE Classic)
11/27 at Oregon
12/1 vs. Michigan State (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
12/4 vs. Butler (in East Rutherford, NJ)
12/11 vs. St. Louis
1/5 vs. UAB

Other 99 in 99’s:
#2 Michigan State
#3 Kansas State
#4 Ohio State
#5 Pitt
#6 Syracuse
#7 Kansas
#8 North Carolina
#9 Florida
#10 Illinois
#11 Kentucky
#12 Villanova
#13 Baylor
#14 Washington
#15 Georgetown
#16 Missouri
#17 Memphis
#18 Wisconsin
#19 Purdue
#20 Butler
#21 Virginia Tech
#22 Tennessee
#23 Gonzaga
#24 Texas
#25 San Diego State
#26 Xavier
#27 West Virginia
#28 BYU
#29 Georgia
#30 St. John’s
#31 N.C. State
#32 Florida State
#33 Marquette
#34 Temple
#35 Vanderbilt
#36 Arizona
#37 Murray State
#38 Dayton
#39 Notre Dame
#40 Mississippi State
#41 Utah State
#42 Maryland
#43 Richmond
#44 UNLV
#45 Seton Hall
#46 Wichita State
#47 Washington State
#48 St. Louis
#49 Old Dominion
#50 Minnesota
#51 New Mexico
#52 UConn
#53 Northwestern
#54 UCLA
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#58 Louisville
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#61 Creighton
#62 Clemson
#63 Cincinnati
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#66 Charlotte
#67 UTEP
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#70 Colorado
#71 Weber State
#72 Alabama
#73 Bradley
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#77 USC
#78 Oklahoma State
#79 Cal
#80 Oklahoma
#81 Virginia
#82 South Carolina
#83 Indiana
#84 Stanford
#85 Oregon
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#88 Arkansas
#89 Boston College
#90 LSU
#91 Providence
#92 Michigan
#93 Oregon State
#94. Nebraska
#95. Auburn
#96. DePaul
#97. Iowa State
#98. Rutgers
#99. Iowa

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and The Washington Times Communities.  You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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  1. Duke deserves the # 1…for now.

  2. paulmbanks says:

    http://es.pn/9dxosq Bilas and Katz predicts Michigan State natl Champs! Gottlieb has Illinois natl runner-up. Digger predicts….WHO CARES!!??

    Like everyone on the ESPN panel has Duke natl champs, a bunch more have MSU runner-up

  3. paulmbanks says:

    I’m really glad I got to cover Duke last spring during the final 4 when I see how they’re more stacked than a young Jennifer Connolly…see what I did there? I played off your original comment, except JC got all waifish when she went from B movie to mainstream Hollywood, so she’s not stacked anymore.

    next time I get those emails about those Duke conf calls, I’ll participate more, they’re the real deal Holyfield

  4. Haha!

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