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Many derided the game as ugly and nearly unwatchable, but for those of us nostalgic for the old Big East Tournament Madison Square Garden magic, the game was a sluggish delight. The two teams were physical, scrappy, and competed like it was vintage In short, the shots may be been mostly astray, but the action was great.
The Gators have exceeded expectations so far this season with a record and the only loss coming in a close neutral floor game against Gonzaga.
Duke also has just a single blemish, a buzzer-beater on a neutral floor against Kansas. Will the addition of center Marques Bolden and forward Jason Taytum, Chase Jeter likely moves out pf the rotation and the scoring onus no longer falls to Amile Jefferson — a good thing for both he and the Devils.
Click here for full details Duke Blue Devils -7 Madison Square Garden, NYC I have carved out a pretty nice season already, largely on the strength of grabbing underdogs in winnable games who have either covered or, like last night and with Cincy over Iowa State, Kansas over Duke, etc.
So, is tonight another such opportunity? I think just the opposite happens tonight. MSG is called Durham North for a reason.
And while Florida has a nice strong alumni base, this will be a partisan Duke crowd. And somehow, inexplicably, people forgot about Duke. This is still the BEST team in the country, and with Bolden and Taytum tonight, their only weakness is immediately vanquished.
They lacked inside defense, rebounding and depth outside of Jefferson. Overnight, those weaknesses become strengths.
Add in the inside prowess and the scoring abilities of Kennard and Grayson Allen multiply. This becomes the most balanced and complete team in the country and I think tonight is the coming out party.
Seven points is a decent amount to eat on a natural floor against a quality opponent, but frankly, I am not sure that Florida is even on the tier below Duke. I think of them as more of a third or even fourth tier team this season.
I think Florida is a step behind that group as well.