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Duke and Miami strongest in the East

Hot potato, hot potato who wants the hot potato? It seems as though the No. 1 ranking in NCAA basketball is a hot potato no one can hold on to. The top ranked team has fallen off its perch a number of times this season. This week was no exception as No. 1 Indiana lost during the week to Illinois, but was able to return for a big win on Sunday against Ohio State.

However, two of the top 3 teams in the nation, when the polls are released on Monday will be from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Duke Blue Devils and the Miami Hurricanes will most likely be ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.

Duke has played well and has the talent to be the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, but when Ryan Kelly went down with a foot injury, Duke and the Blue Devils were humiliated in Miami by 27 points and it exposed their weakness – depth.

The team most deserving of the No. 1 spot this week is the Miami Hurricanes. Over the past month, the Hurricanes have played as well or better than any other team in the country. As mentioned previously, they routed Duke by 27 and then crushed the North Carolina Tar Heels Saturday. Miami also beat North Carolina State, which has beaten both Duke and North Carolina this season.

Miami is undefeated this season when they have played with their complete lineup. They did not have Durand Scott in November in a loss to Florida Gulf Coast and two defeats in a tournament in Hawaii were played without Reggie Johnson.

However, no one can rule out Duke, even though they have had Kelly injured. The Blue Devils had a scare in Boston over the weekend. Duke watched all three teams ranked higher than them lose during the week and nearly did the same themselves on Sunday. Nevertheless, the Blue Devils were able to escape the snow and Boston College with a 62-61 win.

Mason Plumlee, a Player of the Year candidate scored 19 points, grabbed 10 boards and had the winning free throw with only 26 seconds left in the game. Duke is now 21-2 on the season and 8-2 in the ACC. The win was their fifth consecutive.

Both Duke and Miami are deserving of the top spot in the national rankings as they both have played exceptionally well of late with Duke winning five straight and Miami winning 11 straight. Miami is the only team in a power conference that is still undefeated in conference play. The Hurricanes are 10-0 in ACC play thus far.

Another consideration for the top spot must go to another tough team in the East, Syracuse. The Orange is tied for first in the Big East and has a 20-3 overall record.

As the conference schedules continue towards their season ending conference tournaments chances are the team at the top of the national rankings will change. This season there is no clear cut favorite like Kentucky of a year ago, but there are five to eight teams that can on any given day beat any other team in the country.


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