I’ve been saying it all season: Duke can’t win the national championship. It still holds true and the most recent example was its 81-77 loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden Saturday.
St. John’s had lost 11 straight games before this stunning victory and the Johnnies had earned their record; they’re not very good.
Duke just has too many freshmen in key roles. They’re just too inconsistent. Meanwhile, their key senior, Grayson Allen, has fallen off the face of the earth. At times, he’s invisible.
It’s not possible for this team to put together the six straight victories (with at least four against top-flight competition) needed to win the NCAA Tournament. At some point, the Blue Devils will have a game like they did Saturday in New York and that will be the end of their season.
Looking back on the last week in college basketball:
Elevator going up:
Clemson: It was a big week for the Tigers, who have won three in a row. That includes a landmark win over North Carolina, beating the Tar Heels for the first time since 2010.
Florida Gulf Coast: Dunk City could be heading back to the NCAA Tournament; the Eagles are on an 11-game winning streak and firmly in charge in the Atlantic Sun. They’ll still have to win the conference tournament to qualify.
Penn: It might be difficult for BC fans to believe, but it looks like Steve Donahue is having success in Philly. Once an Ivy power, the Quakers had slipped into irrelevance in the last decade. They’re back on the top of the Ivy League standings after sweeping Yale and Brown over the weekend. They’re 15-6 overall and 5-0 in the Ivy.
Savannah State: The Tigers are in rare air because a seven-game winning streak has vaulted them into first place in the MEAC. They’ve never been to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers lead the nation in 3-point makes and attempts. They’re also sixth in the nation in steals per game (9.4) and sixth in turnovers forced per game (18.2). Pretty gaudy stats. The Tigers are coached by former Georgetown player Horace Broadnax, who is also a practicing lawyer. Must help him with the referees. He’s a straightforward guy. On the team’s website he gave these answers to some simple questions: Favorite color: All; Favorite food: Water. Favorite leader: God. Just too busy being a lawyer and coach to think about it, I guess.
Tennessee: Rick Barnes is an overlooked coach; he always wins. The Vols are 17-5 overall and 7-3 in the SEC. The 17 wins already surpasses last season’s win total.
Washington: A stunning upset victory over Arizona Saturday might have propelled the Huskies to a surprising NCAA bid (as long as they don’t collapse). Under first-year coach Mike Hopkins, the Huskies are 17-6 overall and 7-3 in the Pac-12. Hopkins was the supposed coach-in-waiting at Syracuse, but Jim Boeheim hasn’t retired and Hopkins went his own way. It’s working out great so far.
Escalator going down:
Colorado State: Things are falling apart in Fort Collins. The Rams have not only lost six straight games, the school also put coach Larry Eustachy on administrative leave to investigate how he’s treated the players and other people associated with the program. Behavioral problems follow Eustachy around; he once had to resign at Iowa State when photos surfaced of him drinking with students after a game at Missouri.
Dartmouth: The Little Green are the worst team in the Ivy League. They dropped both games of the New York road trip and have lost nine in a row.
Florida: I once thought the Gators were Final Four material; they certainly don’t look it any more. They’ve lost three of their last four, including home losses to South Carolina and Alabama.
Northwestern State: The Demons from Natchitoches, La., used to be a perennial contender in the Southland but this season is a disaster; their losing streak reached 14 games after a loss to McNeese State Saturday.
Notre Dame: The season continues to collapse for the Irish; they’re now 13-10 after losing seven straight. BC goes to South Bend on Wednesday.
Wisconsin: It has been a historically bad season in Madison. The Badgers have lost five straight and 8 of 9, and are 10-15 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten. They’ve finished with a winning conference record in 17 straight seasons. Their streak of 19 straight NCAA Tournaments should end too unless they have a miracle run in the Big Ten tournament.
Wichita State: I’m worried about the Shockers, a Sully’s Court favorite. They just don’t have enough fire. Sometimes the defense fails them, but last Thursday the offense failed them at Temple. The loss never should have happened and now they’ve dropped three of their last five. The individual pieces are excellent (I thought they were a Final Four-caliber team); they’re just not fitting together right. Gregg Marshall is running out of time to solve it.
This week’s Final Four: Villanova, Purdue, Virginia, Cincinnati.
This week’s national champion: Villanova.Joe Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan