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Mark Gottfried ‘can’t imagine’ anybody but Duke as the nation’s No. 1 team

Jul 2, 2013, 10:11 PM EDT

Mark Gottfried AP

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried had high praise for his in-state rival Duke during Tuesday’s annual summer press conference in Raleigh, N.C.

N.C. State was the preseason favorite in the ACC last year, which ended in disappointment for the Wolfpack. Gottfried not only predicted Duke would be the top team in the new-look ACC, but that the Blue Devils should be the nation’s top team when the season starts this fall. From David Morrison of the Greensboro News & Record:

“I can’t imagine anybody else being picked No. 1 in the country than Duke,” Gottfried told reporters.

Gottfried has some reason to fear Duke heading into next year. Blue Devils do return Quinn Cook, Andre Dawkins and Rasheed Sulaimon and add Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood and incoming freshman Jabari Parker. That gives Duke one of the more talented and deep perimeters in the country, which will help make up for the loss of Mason Plumlee on the inside.

But I’d like to imagine that Kentucky’s heralded recruiting class, a reloaded Kansas squad and the defending national champion Louisville all have a case to be next season’s top dog. Duke is ranked No. 6 in CBT’s preseason Top 25, behind the three previously mentioned teams as well as Arizona and Michigan State.

The praise from Gottfried was not only on a team level, but an individual one also.

“There’s a lot of attention around Jabari Parker, but wait until you see Rodney Hood,” Gottfried added. “He’s that good. They’re loaded.”

In a projected loaded draft  in 2014, Gottfried believes Hood and Parker should go No. 2 and No. 3 after Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins.

While Gottfried is predicting big things for Duke, he understands that a lot needs to be done for his Wolfpack. N.C. State loses its starting five from last year’s disappointing season. Though, he has a solid incoming class that features three four-star recruits — point guard Anthony Barber, forward Kyle Washington and center BeeJay Anya — in addition to returning rising sophomore T.J. Warren.

“It’s kind of a blank slate,” Gottfried told reporters. “We’re not real sure who can do what yet.

“It’s going to be hard. But it’ll be fun.”

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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