Duke, ACC champions


No star point guard? No problem.

Who? The Blue Devils of Duke.

What? They're named for hardcore French soldiers.

Where? Durham, North Carolina. No, not those Durham Bulls.

When? March 10th, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Why? They won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

How? Alexis Jones and Elizabeth Williams each put up 24 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, and Duke turned on the afterburners in a 92-73 win over North Carolina.

Surprise? Predicted to finish first in both the coaches' poll and the Blue Ribbon panel poll, and they finished three games ahead of North Carolina and Maryland for the regular-season title.

RPI: 5

SOS: 40

Record: 30-2 (17-1 ACC)

Good wins: At North Carolina, at Maryland.

Bad losses: At Miami, by default; you can't really say UConn is a bad loss.

Who's running this show? Joanne P. McCallie, since 2007. She coached the Michigan State team that went to the title game in 2005.

Extra, Extra! The News and Observer

Losing junior point guard Chelsea Gray has slowed the Blue Devils up slightly, but not to the extent that many observers feared. Freshman Alexis Jones has stepped her game up in Gray's absence and taken over point guard duties. Sophomore center Elizabeth Williams leads this team with 15.2 points per game and is second in rebounding with 7.2; she's one of three active players averaging in double figures, along with junior sharpshooter Tricia Liston (13.3 points and shooting 48.3% from beyond the arc; how do teams leave her open?) and hard-nosed junior forward Haley Peters (12.0 points and a team high 7.4 rebounds).

If Duke can get strong contributions from their bench, and if they can keep the defense cranked up, they'll go far. If they let the single-elimination format get to them and start thinking about how they don't have Gray, they could run into trouble.

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