Duke-Virginia — and Zion Williamson — can silence a few of season’s maddening storylines | NCAA Basketball

As Duke and Virginia put together to play the most important game of the faculty basketball season to this point — a game that lost solely a smidge of its enchantment when the Blue Devils fell Monday evening in a home game against Syracuse — two of essentially the most ludicrous episodes of the season dominated the week.

The first includes the continued rating of UVA because the nation’s No. 4 team ­­by Associated Press voters, although the Cavaliers have received each game they’ve performed. The calendar tells us it’s mid-January, and the information inform us just one different team, Michigan, is undefeated.

The second concerned the ludicrous declaration by Naismith Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen that Duke freshman star Zion Williamson ought to “shut it down” and not play faculty basketball for the Blue Devils.

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Which is why this Duke-Virginia game arrives on the very best time (that point being 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN): Cavs-Devils can detonate each of those follies at once.

Athletes stay to play in games such as these. It’s a significant a part of the explanation Williamson selected to attend Duke quite than to play nearer to home at Clemson. The Tigers would have been fairly good with him within the lineup, perhaps even top-10 good, however the glamor of being a Blue Devil in a game against an elite opponent like Virginia is one thing else altogether.

But again to Pippen, who on ESPN’s The Jump stated “I’d stop taking part in as a result of I really feel that he could danger a significant damage that he could actually damage his profession.”

It occurs that there have been three former Blue Devils which have skilled career-altering accidents, though none whereas taking part in at Duke: Jay Williams, Bobby Hurley and Jon Scheyer.

Of the three, solely Scheyer was injured in a basketball competitors; he was struck within the eye whereas competing within the NBA’s Summer League. He returned to play within the G League and each Israel and Spain. As he was undrafted, it’s unsure whether or not his professional profession would have risen above what he completed, though most who knew his game believed he would have been able to extra if wholesome.

Williams and Hurley, however, had been each top-10 draft picks injured in motorcar accidents. Williams wrecked whereas driving a bike after taking part in a full season with the Chicago Bulls in 2002-03. He by no means performed again. Hurley’s truck was struck on the way in which home after a Sacramento Kings game in 1993-94 by a station wagon that was driving with out its headlines on. Hurley suffered devastating accidents and was considered by medical doctors lucky to outlive. He performed again, however not successfully, and retired after 5 seasons.

Pippen is right inasmuch Williamson could be injured taking part in. Classmate Tre Jones was injured on Monday when he collided with a Syracuse player diving for a free ball. That most likely will hold him out of this game, however the damage is not as serious as once feared. The historical past of the game reveals taking part in is much less harmful than many strange every day actions.

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If Virginia goes into Cameron Indoor Stadium and pulls off a win for the second consecutive season, these voters who’ve continued to punish the Cavs via their 16-Zero begin for one thing that occurred in final season’s NCAA Tournament will not have standing to prosecute that case. Yes, they turned the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed since March Madness expanded to 64 groups in 1985. No, that ought to not matter in any respect to a team that has defeated Virginia Tech and Florida State at home, and Wisconsin, Maryland and Clemson on impartial or street courts.

Should Virginia add a street win at Duke to that resume, it is going to be time for the voters to acknowledge this season’s accomplishments, rating the Cavaliers both No. 1 or No. 2 behind Michigan.

Duke, in the meantime, can erase Virginia from the ranks of unbeatens Saturday night. That’s the type of alternative most athletes work years to achieve. Which brings us again to Williamson.

He didn’t construct his 285-pound physique and polished offensive game with out extraordinary effort. He has been praised by teammates, coaches and scouts for his enthusiasm for the sport and his teammates.

Playing on this kind of highlight is a part of the reward for that. It’s not the kind of reward that buys a home or a giant automobile; but when it had been solely about that, why would LeBron James nonetheless be on the market after incomes $237 million in basketball earnings alone? There isn’t sufficient room in California for all the large vehicles that cash should buy.

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