No team since the 2014-15 Kentucky squad that won its first 38 games (before losing to Wisconsin in the Final Four) has generated anything close to the buzz that's followed this season's Duke Blue Devils.
Yes, they suffered a puzzling loss to Syracuse last week, but they rebounded by handing Virginia its first loss of the season over the weekend. An early-season loss to Gonzaga was smoothed over with wins against Auburn, Texas Tech and Florida State. Next up for the Blue Devils is a road trip to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, when the squad faces off against former associate head coach Jeff Capel, who played a key role in recruiting Duke's top-rated class. On Saturday, Duke hosts a struggling Georgia Tech team.
That top-rated class features three freshmen who could go Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in this summer's NBA draft -- Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish -- as well as Tre Jones, a freshman point guard who has become one of the most dangerous floor generals in America.
The Blue Devils are rock stars. And while Williamson and Barrett have been the leaders, they're surrounded by a collection of talent that could position Duke to win Mike Krzyzewski's sixth national title.
So we figured we'd have a little fun and rank the team's top players every week for the rest of the season. We'll use some numbers, yes, but this is all in good fun, with plenty of subjectivity.
So relax and enjoy it. Or hate it. Up to you. Duke always generates a strong response.
Here are our initial rankings, no points assessed, from season's tipoff to Duke's win over FSU:
This week's power rankings feature seven players who have averaged 15 minutes of playing time thus far this season and who saw action in at least one game last week.
This week's rankings
1. Zion Williamson (42 points)
Raw stats (+10): His big night against Virginia (35 points) capped a week in which he averaged 31.5 PPG and 9.5 RPG.
Advanced stats (+10): He made 75 percent of his shots at the rim against Syracuse (hoop-math.com).
Eye test (+10): The eye test says he needs to go play with the big kids because this isn't fair.
Other stuff (impressive moments, hustle plays) (+10): That fast-break dunk over Jay Huff against Virginia on Saturday? I thought they should have stopped the game for a moment of silence.
Extra point (+1): Who blocks a shot with both hands like he's playing volleyball for the Olympic team? Zion Williamson against Virginia. That's who.
Another extra point (+1): He blocked Oshae Brissett's shot into the front row in the Syracuse loss. Go to the NBA and stop playing with these kids, Zion!
2. RJ Barrett (36 points)
Raw stats (+9): He followed an inefficient effort against Cuse (23 points on 8-for-30 shooting) with an 11-for-19 performance (30 points) in the win over Virginia on Saturday.
Advanced stats (+9): He made 77 percent of his shots inside the arc against Virginia on Saturday and 90 percent of his jump shots. Yes, that's good.
Eye test (+9): When RJ Barrett looks like he's in a trance in the final minutes, you know buckets are coming, and we saw that down the stretch against Syracuse and Virginia.
Other criteria (impressive moments, hustle plays) (+9): Between the late shots against Syracuse in overtime and his strong finish against Virginia, it's clear he's Duke's go-to player in clutch moments.
One-point deduction (-1): Barrett went 5-for-23 from the 3-point line this week. Gotta respect the aggressiveness, though.
Extra point (+1): His fast-break dunk in the first half against Syracuse gave Duke an 11-0 lead.
3. Tre Jones (expected to return from a shoulder injury in the near future) (33 points)
Raw stats (+8): We all watched Duke's challenges against Syracuse without the injured point guard.
Advanced stats (+8): In the 13 possessions Jones played against Syracuse, the Orange made 25 percent of their shots inside the arc but made nearly 50 percent of those attempts after he got hurt, per hooplens.com.
Eye test (+8): Duke might have entered the week with only one loss on its résumé if Jones had been healthy, since the team has averaged 115 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
Other criteria (impressive moments, hustle plays) (+8): How'd he get hurt? By going for a steal, because he's the Drake (or Jay Z, depending on your age) of on-the-ball defense in college basketball.
Extra point (+1): If you're hurt, you gotta be cool on the bench. And it seemed as if Jones knew he'd be on TV multiple times in the Virginia game, so he mastered the "I see you, boy" finger point after every Williamson and Barrett highlight.
4. Cam Reddish (29 points)
Raw stats (+7): After nailing a game winner to beat Florida State and missing the Syracuse game due to illness, he finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 4 turnovers against Virginia on Saturday.
Advanced stats (+7): Not his most efficient game after playing 26 percent of the available possessions (KenPom.com) and finishing with a 61 offensive rating on KenPom.com, four fouls and four turnovers against Virginia.
Eye test (+7): He's a talented young man who makes an impact, but we're still waiting for that consistent stretch where Reddish puts it all together.
Other criteria (impressive moments, hustle plays) (+7): His best hustle play was giving Krzyzewski 37 minutes against the Cavaliers after missing the previous game due to illness.
Bonus point (+1): Against Virginia, his free throw with eight seconds to play extended Duke's lead to four and eliminated the game-tying, buzzer-beating 3-pointer option for the Cavaliers.
5. Jack White (24 points)
Raw stats (+6): With Jones and Reddish both unavailable last week, he played 82 minutes.
Advanced stats (+6): Duke made 63 percent of its shots inside the arc when White was on the floor against Syracuse and Virginia.
Eye test (+5): He couldn't buy a 3-pointer against Syracuse (0-for-10), but shooters shoot. Always felt like the next one might go in.
Other criteria (impressive moments, hustle plays) (+6): Jack White dunked off the dribble in the second half against Virginia.
Bonus point (+1): White swung on the rim after the dunk like "I can do this too, Zion!" Loved it.
6. Marques Bolden (21 points)
Raw stats (+5): He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks against Syracuse, one of his most effective games.
Advanced stats (+5): He made 67 percent of his shots at the rim against Syracuse, per hoop-math.com.
Eye test (+6): He wasn't as aggressive against Virginia as he could have been, but he's clearly vital for this team going forward.
Other criteria (impressive moments, hustle plays) (+5): He did not attempt a shot in 33 minutes of action against Virginia on Saturday. Will somebody please feed the big man?!
7. Javin DeLaurier (16 points)
Basic stats (+4): Not his best night against Virginia. He recorded all five fouls in seven minutes of action.
Advanced stats (+4): Against Syracuse and Virginia, Duke made 80 percent of its shots inside the arc when DeLaurier was on the floor, per hooplens.com.
Eye test (+4): His numbers aren't huge, but the Blue Devils maintain their potency whenever he enters the game, and that's a sign of a solid reserve.
Other criteria (impressive moments, hustle plays) (+4): Scored on a putback in the loss to Syracuse and then blocked Buddy Boeheim on the other end on Syracuse's next possession before grabbing a rebound to end the possession.