Newspaper article International New York Times

Duke Drops out of Top 25, at Least for the Time Being

Newspaper article International New York Times

Duke Drops out of Top 25, at Least for the Time Being

Article excerpt

After Duke overwhelmed North Carolina State, 88-80, the Blue Devils may regain their ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll by Monday.

Barack Obama was the junior senator from Illinois. The Oklahoma City Thunder were in Seattle and called the SuperSonics. Taylor Swift played country music.

The Duke men's basketball team had been ranked in every Associated Press Top 25 poll since the 2007-8 preseason until last Monday, when, after losing four of their prior five games, the Blue Devils -- the defending national champions -- dropped from the rankings.

That wrinkle in space-time may be resolved by Monday. With Coach Mike Krzyzewski back after missing Tuesday's win at Georgia Tech with an undisclosed ailment that required an overnight hospital stay, Duke overwhelmed North Carolina State on Saturday at home, 88- 80, to improve to 17-6, and 6-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

It was not a perfect win. Duke had beaten the Wolfpack (12-12, 2- 9) two weeks ago in Raleigh by 10. Saturday's game did not truly feel in hand until very near the end.

But with three ranked teams coming in quick succession -- No.19 Louisville, No.9 Virginia and No.2 North Carolina, starting with Louisville on Monday -- Duke took the win with little complaint.

"We're just trying to make this as good as possible," Krzyzewski said after the game. "We're not this powerhouse. But guys are doing a good job. We just have to keep fighting."

Krzyzewski seemed to be allying himself with most observers in not mistaking this season's team for last season's, which reached the Final Four, dominated Michigan State and beat Wisconsin for the national title.

In fact, this season's team could be regarded as somewhat similar. The 2014-15 Blue Devils rode a lights-out offense and milquetoast defense to a 28-3 regular season, bowed out of the A.C.C. tournament after two games, then turned on the defensive jets to stampede through the N. …

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