Mason Plumlee is Leaving Duke Early, and if Austin Rivers Leaves Early Too, How Badly Will Duke Struggle in 2013?

Duke, fresh off a stunning 1st round NCAA tournament loss to Lehigh, is about to lose its three best players to the NBA. Miles Plumlee graduates, and his brother, Mason Plumlee, is testing the NBA waters (aka: adios, Durham) according to ESPN’s Jay Williams.

If Austin Rivers leaves – why would he stay? – Duke could be facing a very down year in 2012-2013. Not NIT-down, but more along the lines of 20 wins and a 5-6 seed in March instead of their typical 25-30 wins and a 1-2-3 seed.

They’ll be left with four decent guards – Curry, Dawkins, Cook, Thornton – a 3-point shooting power forward in Ryan Kelly, and Marshall Plumlee, a 6-foot-11 freshman who redshirted.

If you’re wondering who the high-impact recruits are … yikes. There’s only one player in the Top 150 signed (Rasheed Sulaimon).

Fortunately for Duke, North Carolina could lose up to five players to the NBA (would McAdoo bolt?), Florida State graduates five important players, and Virginia will be losing two of its three best players. Because of all that, I won’t go as far as Dan Wolken did and predict Duke will be a bubble team. I don’t think it’s an absurd idea, though.

The favorite in the ACC next year – if CJ Leslie doesn’t leave for the NBA – could be NC State. Yes, I’m on the Wolfpack +8 against Kansas.

[UPDATE: As some of you have noted, NC State has three Top 55 recruits coming in.]

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