Fresh off an overtime victory against Seth Greenberg and the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Duke Blue Devils (25-4, 12-2) make the trip over to Winston-Salem for Tuesday’s game against Wake Forest (13-15, 4-10). The Blue Devils are heavily favored in the match-up, as Wake Forest has lost 7 of their last 9 ACC contests. That said, those 2 wins both occurred in the past 12 days, including a 29-point blowout of Boston College, so Duke would be wise not to take victory for granted.
The Blue Devils must also overcome the mental fatigue that comes with playing an emotional game in Tallahassee last Thursday night, playing against the very-physical Hokies in Cameron on Saturday, and having another quick turnaround here against the Demon Deacons. Additionally, everyone and their brother’s grandmothers have already circled Saturday’s big date with North Carolina on their calendars as Tobacco Road gears up the heavily anticipated rematch. With plans already underway for ESPN’s College Game Day to be hosted from Cameron, this Duke squad must be sure to keep its focus on the task at hand to secure a victory at Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons are led by junior C.J. Harris and sophomore Travis McKie, who average 17 points and 16 points respectively. McKie also leads the Deacons with in rebounding at 7.1 per game. On the Duke side, it was announced today that the Blue Devils will be without the services of post player Josh Hairston, as the medical staff is taking extra caution handling the concussion he suffered against VT. This promises to yield a few additional minutes for Michael Gbinije, and Duke fans around the nation are clamoring to see more of the freshman in action.
My predictions: Duke will look to re-establish Mason Plumlee’s confidence and assertive play in the post, Michael Gbinije will play well enough in increased (though still few) minutes further tantalize Duke message-board posters, and despite showing signs of mental fatigue that allow the Demon Deacons to hang around early, the Blue Devils ultimately pull away for a 12-point win — 78-66.