Goodman: Without Irving, Duke Vulnerable

FoxSports' Jeff Goodman says without Kyrie Irving, Duke can lose. To just about anyone.

It shouldn't be that much of a shock.

Ok, maybe that the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils lost to a Florida State team that can't score and lost to Auburn a little more than a week ago.

But not that the Dukies went down.

Sans Kyrie Irving, this team is capable of losing to anyone – even in one of the worst ACC campaigns in recent memory – on the road.

Duke has had virtually no inside presence all season long except for when Mason Plumlee tore apart Marquette's frontline in Kansas City.

The transition defense is mediocre.

And the Blue Devils hadn't been tested on the road.

This is a team that struggled to put Maryland away in Cameron Indoor Stadium just a few nights ago – and one that's far too reliant now on the trifecta.

Nolan Smith had put up gaudy numbers since Irving's been out with the toe injury that could put him on the shelf for the rest of the season.

But the Blue Devils weren't really playing anyone. It's been home games against Bradley, Saint Louis, Elon, Miami and UAB – and the one game away from Durham came against winless UNC Greensboro.

Duke is far from a lock to get to the Final Four without Irving in the lineup.

Now everything changes.

Instead of having Smith and Singler on the wings and Irving pushing the ball, now Smith has become the primary ballhandler – and it takes away what he's able to do as a scorer.

It's clear Duke needs Irving back in order to win back-to-back national titles.

Until they, they can be beaten by just about anyone.

We saw that Wednesday night in Tallahassee.


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