For almost the entire 2018-19 college basketball season, the Duke Blue Devils have been the center of attention in the NCAA.
Thanks mainly to the highly touted and very talented freshmen class Coach Mike Krzyzewski brought into the program this season, the team has spent most of the year ranked No. 1 as well as being the favorite to win the National Championship.
The impressive freshman class includes Tre Jones, Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett, and of course the most talked about player in college basketball: Zion Williamson.
The four freshmen helped lead Duke to one of the best records in the country at 23-2, heading into their highly anticipated game against archrival North Carolina on Feb. 20.
But just 30 seconds into the game, disaster struck for the Blue Devils – a nasty-looking knee injury to their star Williamson.
Williamson slipped on the court and awkwardly twisted his knee, causing him to miss the rest of the game.
Duke got blown out by the Tar Heels, losing by almost 20 points – by far their worst loss of the season.
After the game, it was reported that Williamson had a grade 1 knee sprain and was listed day-to-day on the injury report.
Since the injury, Williamson has missed two more games for the team, and it is now reported that there is no timetable for the star’s return.
In the three games without Williamson, Duke is 1-2 and just hasn’t been the same. They have struggled not only on offense, but also on defense.
Their one victory during the span came against an unranked Syracuse team, and quite frankly, they struggled to win that game.
Throughout the season, Duke has averaged over 85 points and given up just around 65 points per game.
Since Williamson’s injury, The Blue Devils haven’t scored more than 75 points a single time, and have given up more than 75 points in two of the three games.
Without Williamson, the team has struggled shooting the ball as well as on the glass. Also, their assists per game are down, and their turnovers per game are up.
The Blue Devils haven’t shot better than 50 percent without Williamson and have had two games with more turnovers than assists.
In the last week, several rumors have been flying around that Williamson will sit out the rest of the season and save himself for the NBA Draft in June.
While Coach K has squashed these rumors and said Williamson does indeed want to return, one could only think Williamson should seriously consider sitting out the rest of the way.
What more does he have to prove? He has already shown that he is a dominant force in college basketball and he is already NBA ready and worthy of the first overall pick.
Playing this year could only hurt his chances if he rushes back and gets injured again.
One thing is for sure – Coach K and Duke need Williamson back and healthy this year if they want any chance at a title.
Without Williamson, Duke is still a top 15 in the country. But with Williamson, they are hands down the best team in all of college basketball.
If Williamson is lost for the rest of the year, Duke will struggle in the tournament, and their odds of winning the National Championship are very slim.