- The Washington Times - Monday, March 15, 2004

The overtime loss to Maryland is incidental to Duke today, assuming the NCAA tournament trumps day-old news.

It is always about Duke in this part of March, with the bracket and top seeds in mind.

If Duke is flawed — and it is — the rest of the leading entrants beg a certain leeriness as well.

Saint Joseph’s? Kentucky? Stanford?

A case could be made for each in this parity-filled season, exemplified by Saint Joseph’s, the No.1 team that was fitted with a 20-point beating in the Atlantic 10.

Saint Joseph’s is a fun development, as fun is defined in March, but it also is a beneficiary of all the college-age talent in the NBA.

Looking down to the No.2 seeds, Connecticut is left to monitor the back spasms of Emeka Okafor, which is a tenuous place to be.

To the national champion goes one game fashioned around a good dose of luck, as necessitated in a single-elimination affair.

Duke is the safe bet, the brand name as ubiquitous as Coke and McDonald’s, just not nearly as lovable.

The perfect coach of the nearly perfect program is subjected to the predictable backlash inspired by seeming perfection.

Coach K’s Blue Devils are the Yankees of college basketball, although not nearly as arrogant as George Steinbrenner’s enterprise, but arrogant just the same.

Perception is a big part of it, accurate or not.

Duke is seen as acting a little better than everyone else.

Even the Cameron Crazies think their taunts are a little more inventive than the opposition’s.

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