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With conference play heating up, as a collective, the human species is already losing their marbles. Between the sort of hyperbolic praised best reserved for a home program’s broadcast team to doomsday predictions better suited for Info Wars, it does make it a fun time to be a college basketball fan.

Please note, I am very much here for your conspiracy theories. I will buy ALL the stocks in them. Eh, I digress…

Before the grit, grind, and moxie that is the college basketball stock watch, do remember that this isn’t about something being “good” or whatever adjective your local paper’s op-ed writer uses to describe how well the garbage pickup has been since the start of 2018. It is about value. Value of a team — or person, for that matter — set off expectations currently placed on that entity.

Don’t confuse buying and selling with good and bad.

We good? Good.

We’re Buying Duke

The Dilly

Duke came into the season with lofty exceptions, but recently met the ACC docket. In doing so, the Blue Devils are only 1-2 in league play and have fallen to an overall record of 13-2.

Blasphemy! The DOOKIES are done!

Despite recently beating a good Florida State team, the two losses came against Boston College and North Carolina State. Due to that, some people have soured on Coach K and crew. Questions about depth, defense, and roster structure has emerged.

I mean, why not? We need to start our annual conversation about the demise of Duke, right?

That being said, there is still a contingent of people who believe in Duke. Why?

Why Are We Buying?

This team is young. Incredibly young. With youth and inexperience will come some growing pains. Think of the Blue Devils like Mike Seaver (if you’re old enough to understand that reference). There’s going to be a few times Duke will let down its parents, yet it will learn from boneheaded mistakes and grow into a C-level (religious-styled only) movie superstar!

Here’s Duke right now:

This will be Duke in like a month:

Let’s first note that a loss to Boston College isn’t that bad. It isn’t good or anything, but this isn’t the same BC team most people are used to. The Eagles are a year away from being good and all that. At the same time, they are by no means actually bad this season, either. If anything, between Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson, Boston College has one of the most dangerous backcourts in the country. Teams should fear the Eagles.

Random aside: We probably won’t be able to do a full post on BC this season. If you can, though, buy stock in the Eagles now. Next season, they are a LOCK to make the NCAA Tournament. Hell, they might flirt with the Big Dance at times this season.

Anyway, the point here is that Duke has two losses, which isn’t a lot in case you’re bad at math, and only one of those lapses happened against a bad team.

The depth issue is fake. Sure, Coach K has appeared to shrink his rotation down to seven guys. And yet, I’d argue there’s no such thing as real depth in college hoops. There’s approximately eleventy-billion Division I teams, with only a few hundred good players in the entire nation, making for a scenario that provides very good teams with having any resemblance of depth.

There should be a huge drop in ability from a college team’s starting guard to its second-stringer. There are exceptions, obviously, but the rule here is that a team’s first six or seven guys are the core and everything else is fluff. Coach K is simply acknowledging that early, and instead of pretending he has depth by showcasing the fluff in regular season games, he’s giving the guys who actually matter most the time on the floor to earn the experience they need to get better.

It is a vicious cycle of K attempting to provide experience to the inexperienced by doing away with the fluff or something.

We can discuss the historical greatness of Marvin Bagley, or the sometimes iffiness of Grayson Allen, or the fact that Trevon Duvall can’t shoot, until we are blue in the head. I simply refuse to believe a team with multiple NBA-level players on its roster, one led by the greatest college basketball coach in the history of the sport, will be unable to figure it out come March.

By the time it matters, this team will be hitting its stride. Its peak. All will be fine and dandy in the land of Dick Vitale’s pets.

Let’s not overthink this, is all. Every team hits a skid here and there. The Blue Devils haven’t even done that. They just lost to NC State, and sometimes losing to a bad team happens.

You know, because sometimes life just happens and we don’t need a bigger take other than a shrug of the shoulders.

Selling On Clemson

But The Tigers Have Been Good!

They have, astute subheading friend.

In 15 games this season, Clemson has won every outing but one. I didn’t go to school to be an accountant, or even play a mathematical wizard on the picture-box, but that gives the Tigers an overall record of 14-1. That’s neat!

However…

Clemson actually had an admirable non-conference strength of schedule (87th). Let’s note that now because the point that is about to be made realizes that, yet giggles at its face with disregard for potential hurt feelings or lost invitations from future slumber parties.

The ACC schedule is so much harder than what the Tigers have already faced. Moreover, Clemson might be 3-0 in ACC play at the moment, but outside of Louisville, those are all games the Tigers should have won anyway. They aren’t (yet, or at least too much) overachieving.

Four of the team’s next five games, however, are going to be a real test for Clemson. The Tigers have a game against the ho-hum NC State Wolfpack coming up, but that’s followed up by a murderer’s row of Atlantic Coast Conference carnage (patent pending).

Sell your stock now, because in five games’ time, Clemson will likely have beaten NC State, but fallen to Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Virginia. That would put them with a league record of 4-4, which looks a lot less sexy than 3-0.

The value here is in optics. Clemson at 14-1 (3-0) is as fine as some nicely aged wine. The Tigers at 15-5 (4-4) is still good, but the value is most certainly with the former’s appearance.

Hate to be a man judging something solely off looks, but here I am.

College basketball stock watch: Buy Duke now before they figure it out Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Joseph has been covering college basketball for nearly a decade. He's also the co-host of the Off The Wall podcast. Marty Jannetty is better than HBK.
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