Beyond the fact that No. 1 Duke’s 90-63 loss at Miami (Fla.) on Wednesday night was the third-worst ever for a top-ranked team, it came against a Hurricanes team Arizona beat by 19 points last month in Hawaii.
And of course, either you hate Duke or love it, no in-between. So the rout was blissful for the anti-Duke faction, especially with Dick Vitale announcing the game for ESPN.
Arguments for the Duke crowd: Miami did not play against Arizona with burly senior forward Reggie Johnson, who was out with a dislocated thumb. Duke also played at Miami whereas Arizona defeated the Hurricanes 79-60 at a neutral location, at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Dec. 23.
While Johnson did not play against Arizona, he logged only 16 inconsequential minutes against Duke in his first game back from the injury. By the time Miami built a 42-19 halftime lead, Johnson (6-10, 292) only logged seven minutes and did not score.
Johnson (who averages 12.6 points and 10.1 rebounds a game) finished with two points and five rebounds.
The point differential of 46 points between Arizona’s win and Duke’s loss to Miami is so extreme, the venue of the game is not as important if, say, the outcome was a few points either way.
“It was one of our best performances of the year and it came at the expense of a good team,” Arizona coach Sean Miller was quoted as saying by The Associated Press after beating Miami.
The backcourt of Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson combined for 31 points against the Hurricanes. Quinn Cook and Seth Curry had only five points (all from Cook) against Miami, which is 6-0 overall and 5-0 against the ACC since returning to the mainland after the Hawaii trip.
What is more important is the RPI ratings. Sixth-ranked Arizona, which hosts UCLA on Thursday night, is No. 2 in the CBSSports.com and ESPN.com RPI ratings — both which resemble what the NCAA tournament committee observes. Duke is No. 1 in both.
Arizona might be No. 1 in those RPI ratings when it faces the Bruins. Kansas, 16-1 like the Wildcats, is also a potential No. 1 RPI team. Duke can stay atop the RPI ratings because Miami is the No. 4 RPI team in both polls. Heck, even the Hurricanes can jump to No. 1 in the RPI.
For those of you who follow the RPI closely, it should be interesting to see what is released tomorrow.
What is most important is maintaining that lofty RPI heading into March. That’s still five weeks away. A 23-point loss by Duke can bring out the giddiness in most of us.
RELATED LINK: Anthony Gimino at TucsonCitizen.com writes that Arizona should have an advantage on the boards this time against the Bruins
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner