College Crosse's Impossibly Early, Definitely Perfect (Sort of), Rock-Solid (Maybe) Pre-Fall Ball Top-20: Number 2 (Duke)

The 2013 season is six months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.

Team: Duke

Rank: 2

Important People: Jordan Wolf (A); Dan Wigrizer (G); Christian Walsh (A); Case Matheis (A); Chris Hipps (D); Josh Dionne (A)

Formerly Important People: C.J. Costabile (LSM); Rob Rotanz (M); Justin Turri (M); Mike Manley (D)

Final 2012 Poll Positions: Media: 4; Coaches: 3

2012 Record: 15-5 (2-1, ACC)

2012 Snapshot: Have you done any modeling?

* * * * *

Nightmare Fuel

Everyone has issues entering 2013; it's just a matter of the significance of those issues. Duke doesn't appear to have all kinds of stuff that makes you want to set things on fire to burn away the disease, but there are two things with the Devils -- both mentioned in their 2012 season decompression -- that make me wonder just how far Duke is going to go in 2013:

  • Wigrizer is back in the saddle for the Devils between the pipes. The senior returns for his last go-around in 2013 and hasn't exactly been the kind of stopper that Duke was likely looking for out of the Pennsylvania native: In his three seasons between the pipes, Wigrizer holds save percentages of 50.8 (2010), 55.0 (2011), and 51.6 (2012). Sophomore Kyle Turri -- off of his participation in the U-19 tournament in Finland his summer -- is there should Wigrizer stumble, but this is still Wigrizer's job as of right now. What is especially scary about Wigrizer next season is that his mentor last year -- John Galloway -- is off to Providence with former Duke assistant Chris Gabrielli. I don't think anyone has a decent read on what Wigrizer is going to be next season, and that kind of question mark could really slow down what could be a solid Duke defense in 2013.
  • At some point you'd have to think that Duke's proclivity for slow starts is going to catch up with the Devils. Starting the season at or around .500 for the past four years hasn't hurt Duke in recent history -- the Devils, over that span, have only dropped a combined nine games after their mediocre starts -- but even good teams with that kind of profile can't dodge destruction for forever.

A Thousand White Doves

Duke doesn't quite have the volume of talent that their rivals down the road in Chapel Hill have, but the Devils are as loaded as any team in the ACC (and beyond). The offense looks strong in its first units: Wolf appears capable of anchoring the attack with Dionne and Walsh, but if Wolf gets bumped to the midfield to allow all-everything freshman Matheis to run with the attack, that first midfield line looks dangerous with Dave Lawson and Jake Tripucka. The field defense also looks like it's ready to make serious moves, anchored in close with Hipps, Henry Lobb, and Harvard transfer Dan DiMaria. Brian Dailey may be ready to take a step forward at the long-stick position following Costabile's departure and should Casey Carroll end up in Durham this year, the Devils look as strong as Maryland at that end of the field.

In addition, with Brendan Fowler having the potential to give Duke a bunch of extra possessions with his work on the whistle, the Devils have the potential to insulate Wigrizer from unnecessary exposure and give that offense -- a light show of explosiveness -- all kinds of opportunities to beat the snot of out opponents.

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