There may be some who think tonight's game with Yale will be an easy win. Think again. Yale has been picked by many to win the Ivy League and for good reason. The Bulldogs are pretty good and they are led by players who have been in big game before.
A season ago, Yale tied Harvard during the regular season which forced a one game play off they barely lost. That bitter pill has the Bulldogs ears pinned back and ready for battle tonight in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It all starts with Justin Sears for the Bulldogs, a senior forward who is the projected to be the Ivy League Player of the Year. He is currently averaging 16 ppg. But the play of guard Makai Mason has been the big story where he is dropping 20 ppg which leads the team in scoring. It is worth noting that both of these players can pass as evidenced by both being tied for team leader in assists.
There is more. Joe Montague and Brandon Sherrod are both averaging double figures scoring and these four players make up strong base. Much like Duke, Yale goes about eight players deep in double figure minute players.
The Bulldogs started the season with three blow out wins before losing a 2 point game to a solid SMU team on the road. Vegas has made Duke a 13 point favorite in tonight's game. And no we do not advocate gambling, this is only shared for entertainment purposes.
Meanwhile the Blue Devils are coming off two wins in New York where the team had lessons a plenty. The game with Georgetown was close but winning a game like that can do wonders for a teams confidence.
What to look for now? That will be for players other than Grayson Allen to step up on offense. During his post game press conference in New York, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski alluded to this.
Allen has been stellar in his first few games, save one, but he is the clear leader on offense. But another bright spot was the play of freshman point guard Derryck Thornton who now seems solidified as a starter the rest of the way.
Thornton has scored well but the next step in the process is to make his teammates better. He does that by distribution and raising his assist totals. Should this happen, Duke takes another step towards being a better team.
Another thing to look for is Duke playing better defense. To date, the Blue Devils have used a lot of experimentation in trying to find the right mix.
That said, tonight will provide a good test for a young team coming into their own. How many teams can lose a game and move up a spot in the Coaches poll? Not many and that is more a testament to the program rather than the teams play.
Honestly, that ranking may be too high for this time of the season and a young team and Krzzyewski likely knows this. That makes for a challenge in keeping his youth on the roster grounded while the upper classmen continue to groom them.
I think Duke wins tonight but it could be more of a grinder than some think. On the other hand, lessons may have forged a better team already and we could see the other end.
Tip off is at 7:00 in Cameron Indoor Stadium in a game televised on ESPNU.