Basketball is a curious thing. For instance a tough and hot UVA team which Duke defeated got blown out at Tennessee, while the Wolfpack hold a win over the Vols on the same court. The Pack also defeated Notre Dame on the road which Duke was unable to do. Let’s face it though, the Pack faced the Irish right after their win over Duke, so they caught them fat and happy.
What am I getting at here? Well, on a given day, they do show up and they’ve done this more often than not on the road.
But the Pack has struggled of late losing four out of their last six contests which translates to a 11-6 overall record. This includes a heart breaking loss to Wake Forest by a digit.
That has most folks seemingly writing the Packs season off and that sometimes makes for a dangerous team. And we know that the Pack like all others are likely to play at their best against the team with “Duke,” on the jersey.
The Pack are led by Tony Warren, one of the ACC’s top scorers. I told anybody who would listen that this kid could score the ball while covering the AAU circuit and that he’d be a much better player than Rodney Purvis who has since transferred from Raleigh.
Warren can more or less score from anywhere on the court and he will likely be the point of emphasis for the Duke defense. Another player capable of big games is Anthony Barber who can break a defense down on the drive. But Barber has been inconsistent with a sometimes terrible shot selection. Still, he is just the kind of player who knows there will be a spotlight on this game and he could rise to the occasion.
Both the Pack and Blue Devils have struggled on the boards this season, but this will be a stat line to watch. Another thing is how will a week lay off effect the Blue Devils at the start of the game.
I expect Duke will defend their home court and that they’ll wear down the Wolfpack over the course of the game to come away with a win.
It seems that this Duke is learning to bring consistent effort tot he court and play complete games and with each victory the confidence builds for a team that is very young by Duke standards.
Don’t look for the same platoon rotation though, for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is likely to settle on the players he feels most comfortable with until the game is in hand. That is partially due to the rest this team will have coming in.
The Wolfpack come into this game with their back against the wall and this sometimes makes for a tough team effort. But Duke has had early season adversity as well and they will not make for an easy win in Cameron.