Colleges

JOE SULLIVAN | COLLEGE BASKETBALL

It may be time to start taking Duke seriously

Duke's Marvin Bagley III (35) dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Dakota in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
gerry broome/AP
Marvin Bagley has helped Duke to a 10-0 start.

I’m going to have to come to grips with Southeastern Kentucky. Or Duke, as you may like to call it.

Starting four freshmen doesn’t seem to be a way to win a national championship. Along the way, the freshmen would react unlike seasoned upperclassmen, and a loss would occur.

That’s what I thought, but maybe I’m wrong when it comes to Southeastern Kentucky. Marvin Bagley looks like a transcendent player, averaging 22.0 points and 11.2 rebounds. Point guard Trevon Duval can’t shoot but he’s a tremendous passer.

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Wendell Carter is a rugged forward; he almost went to Harvard. Imagine him with the Crimson.

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This team obviously has Final Four talent, and right now even I have to admit that. It might have national championship talent. John Calipari must really be jealous of Mike Krzyzewski.

Not sure I’m ready to believe that they won’t trip up instead of winning six straight games in the NCAA Tournament. But I could be wrong.

Road trip: Canisius has a nice compact sports complex in a residential area of Buffalo. The Koessler includes a small gymnasium where I saw the Golden Griffins beat Dartmouth on Saturday. The atmosphere was fairly quiet except for some clueless fans and a great trombone player in the pep band. He’s so good he should transfer to VCU.

Jermaine Crumpton, a 6-6 (maybe) forward, is a consummate player for MAAC competition. He’ll be all-league and the Griffs might have a chance to upset things in the MAAC tournament. The pieces around Crumpton fit together well.

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Looking back on last week:

ELEVATOR GOING UP

Arizona State: At 7-0, the Sun Devils are off to their best start since 1980-81, when they had Lafayette Lever, Byron Scott, and Alton Lister and finished 24-4.

Auburn: With an assistant coach charged by the FBI in its investigation of college basketball, plus the NCAA penalties in the past for head coach Bruce Pearl, I keep waiting for the Tigers to be affected adversely. They are the anti-Arizona and have won seven of their first eight games.

Boise State: The Broncos, obviously just a football school, are 7-1, including a victory at Oregon that ended the Ducks’ 46-game home winning streak. They also are the only team to beat Loyola of Chicago.

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Clemson: Not much was expected from the Tigers this season, but Brad Brownell can coach. The Tigers are 7-1, including a nice nonconference win at Ohio State.

Houston: Kelvin Sampson can obviously coach; he just has to avoid running afoul of the NCAA. He hasn’t gotten into any trouble yet in Houston, and after an impressive 91-65 victory over Arkansas, the Cougars are 6-1.

Texas Arlington: Let’s nominate the Mavericks as a team that could pull off an upset in March. They are 7-1, including five wins in a row. They’ve won at Oklahoma and BYU; their only loss was by 1 point at Alabama.

Wagner: The Seahawks are a surprising 6-1, the best start ever under sixth-year coach Bashir Mason. Looks like they’ll be contenders in the NEC, and Mason is a viable candidate to get a bigger job.

ESCALATOR GOING DOWN

Duquesne: First-year coach Keith Dambrot, who had a lot of success at Akron and coached LeBron James in high school, is finding out how hard it is to win here. The Dukes had an awful week, losing home games to Robert Morris and Cornell, then falling short in the city-rivalry game against Pitt.

Georgia Tech: The horror!!! Tech impossibly lost a home game to Grambling, 64-63, when two Jackets fighting for a defensive rebound accidentally tipped in a Grambling miss with 6.5 seconds left.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes are young, and it’s showing. After they started the season against three cupcakes, things took a turn for the worse against tougher completion. After a week that featured losses to Virginia Tech and Penn State (at home), the Hawkeyes have lost four of their last five.

Maryland: The Turtle will be in development all season; they had a tough week against some good competition. They lost to Syracuse at the Carrier Dome and came up short at home against Purdue, a game they had any number of chances to win.

Mississippi: The Rebels lost home games to South Dakota State and Virginia Tech. They’ve lost three of their last four and are staring dead ahead to another loss at Middle Tennessee.

Wisconsin: The Badgers were able to muster only 37 points in a loss at Virginia, then lost at home to Ohio State. They’ve lost five of their last six.

THIS WEEK’S FINAL FOUR: Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, Wichita State.

THIS WEEK’S NATIONAL CHAMPION: Kansas. The Jayhawks looked stupendous in smashing Syracuse on a neutral court in Florida.

Joe Sullivan can be reached at joseph.sullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan