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How the Terps stack up against other top-five teams (Part IV: Duke)

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts during a homecoming celebration for the national championship Duke basketball team at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski reacts during a homecoming celebration for the national championship Duke basketball team at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. (Gerry Broome / Associated Press)

Now that Maryland is considered one of the top teams in the country with a legitimate chance of making the 2016 Final Four, it's going to be interesting to compare the Terps to the other teams in the top five in the country. As Maryland gets ready to start the season against Mount St. Mary's on Friday, we will take a look at how Mark Turgeon's team stacks up.

We've already looked at No. 1 North CarolinaNo. 2 Kentucky and No. 4 Kansas. Now, let's take a look at No. 5 Duke.

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Now that Maryland is considered one of the top teams in the country with a legitimate chance of making the 2016 Final Four, it¿s going to be interesting to compare the Terps to the other teams in the top five. As the Terps get ready to start the season Friday against Mount St. Mary¿s, we will take a look at how Mark Turgeon¿s team stacks up.

FRONTCOURT: As with Kentucky, Duke lost a good chunk of its national championship team. The biggest hit was up front, with center Jahlil Okafor and small forward Justise Winslow both being lottery picks. After not taking one-and-dones for several years, Mike Krzyzewski has adopted a similar philosophy to John Calipari at Kentucky. Okafor and Winslow will be replaced by two other freshmen, forwards Chase Jeter and Brandon Ingram, two of four top 25 recruits for the Blue Devils. Ingram, who was No. 3 in the country last year behind Ben Simmons and Skal Labissiere, will likely be a nightmare matchup for a lot of the teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In terms of if Duke played Maryland – a matchup that Terps fans certainly would hope to see in the NCAA tournament – Ingram might be hard to guard, though Jake Layman being 20 pounds heavier will certainly help. Jeter could also be a difficult assignment, but the combination of Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone might give the Terps a bit of an edge. Of course, there's still a Plumlee in Durham – 7-1 senior Marshall – who gives Duke some experience and depth up front, like Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky provide the Terps.

By the time the Maryland Terps might play the Kentucky Wildcats, they'll be much better than they are now.

BACKCOURT: The Blue Devils are also reinventing their backcourt after losing freshman Tyus Jones and senior Quinn Cook. The early reports on freshman Derryck Thornton are not as promising as they were for Jones, but the combination of sophomore Grayson Allen and junior Matt Jones, both of whom played well in spots in the NCAA tournament, could offset the loss of Cook. The addition of another top 25 freshman, 6-5 Luke Kennard, gives Coach K three solid shooting guards. The biggest question is who would play point if Thornton struggles. Still, with the loss this week of Maryland shooting guard Dion Wiley, Duke might be a little deeper in the backcourt than the Terps, but the experience of Melo Trimble with the addition of Rasheed Sulaimon as a second ballhandler (as well as Jaylen Brantley) and the flexibility to move sophomore wing Jared Nickens between shooting guard and small forward and Trimble between point and shooting guard should help make up for Wiley's absence.

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Now that Maryland is considered one of the top teams in the country with a legitimate chance of making the 2016 Final Four, it's going to be interesting to compare the Terps to the other teams in the top five in the country.

ASSESSMENT: Just the presence of former Dukie Sulaimon in a Maryland uniform – as well as the unfortunate circumstances that led him to finish his college career in College Park - makes this one of the most potentially interesting showdown possibilities looming throughout the season. Knowing the NCAA tournament selection committee's history of playing for television ratings in March, it seems likely that the Terps and Blue Devils could wind up in the same region as two top seeds or on opposite sides of the bracket headed for a showdown in the Final Four if both make it through as No. 1 seeds. That it happens to be in Sulaimon's hometown of Houston – where Duke won its regional a year ago behind another local, Winslow – could be the perfect place for these former ACC rivals to renew their heated (and for some hated) history.

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