I like the move Coach Mike Krzyzewski made here in that it puts a player on the court in Tyler Thornton who adds experience while giving Duke spark off the bench in Sulaimon. Thornton is one of the Blue Devils better defenders and he can add toughness while in the game, but you can bet that there will be a game in Greensboro where Sulaimon will come off the bench and his presence will be felt. So look for Thornton to be steady in the role of a starter and Sulaimon to make his mark and give the Blue Devils a needed lift.
First things, first
A lot of fans look ahead and it would seem that Duke would have to make it through a Maryland team still determined to be the Blue Devils rival and UNC a week after Duke swept them in the regular season. But Maryland is first on the docket and they will present some problems with their size. The key for Duke will be to hold Dez Wells down and if they can keep him from getting hot from beyond the three-point stripe, they should hold an advantage with their quickness and Kelly stretching the floor. Look for Duke to try to take an early lead and I think we’ll see a hungry Mason Plumlee wanting a little revenge on Alex Lin and company.
Watch the pace
I’m not looking for the blowout in any of the Blue Devils game in Greensboro in that it will be important for teams to pace themselves with three games in three days for the teams with a bye. It would not surprise me to see Duke get deep into its bench tonight if they gain a comfortable working margin but then again, Krzyzewskis’ bench shrinks when games are close and th Terps are formidable.
You do want to win the first one for seeding implications
Coach K and his team rarely if ever look ahead, but they know losing the opener against Maryland could jeopardize a possible number on seed. Most of the media here sees Duke as th favorite and many feel they can seal a number one seed with just one win. Of course, Duke has made a habit of cutting down nets in Greensboro and that is their goal.