Category Archives: Duke Basketball

It’s not the End of the World for Duke Basketball

We’ve been conspicuously absent since Duke lost and the main reason was to let the dust clear. Duke Basketball has created a monster of a fan base these days and quite frankly, it’s hard to navigate the waters in the various social media forums without being berated with rants from spoiled fans or short sided criticism of the team and Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The bottom line is that by Duke standards, the Mercer loss was a disappointing end to the season, one where the team never quite came together. In fact, this past seasons team was never seemingly mentally tough enough to advance. Were there specific reasons of this team falling short of expectations? Sure there was, but there are no simple answers and certainly not any one thing to point to in trying to explain a first round exit. I suppose one can call me old these days and I am sure many think I am cranky. But age does add wisdom and what I see is a blip on the radar with concern to Duke’s performance. Duke had a staggered roster that needed Jabari Parker to play more in the paint, but that is not his natural position. They tried to off set their short comings in the paint with their perimeter play, but that didn’t work as well as expected. In fact, Duke was very inconsistent with their backcourt play where every player on the roster contributed to the plight. The guards struggled mightily to prevent penetration. Oddly, they saved their best collective performance for last, but then the front court issues reared its head in the Mercer loss. And one cannot under sell the fact that Coach Mike Krzyzewski suddenly had to deal with the loss of his beloved brother. And the timing of that happening in season and at Christmas simply cannot be overstated. You see! Coach K is as human as you and me, but he’s just accomplished more than most reading this ever will in their profession, making him seem like he’s super human at times. It never fails. Any time Duke loses, the lunatic fringe or narrow thinking bunch comes out firing that he’s losing his touch. They point to the same old tired analogies that have gained steam over the years like an old wives tale gains steam and becomes a bastion of misquotes. Please. Coach K is still the winningest coach in the history of the college game. He’s still got the touch and he’s still got the desire. Krzyzewski hit the recruiting trail running attending Luke Kennard’s announcement that he will attend Duke. And that wasn’t his only stop on the recruiting trail.  Kennard is a baller and a hard nosed competitor and Krzyzewski and his staff got a great start in his class where he’ll be a senior this coming season. As Duke fans, most of you are very lucky to have chosen to root for a team with a living legend at the helm. And fortunately, there are still rational fans, one who appreciates the body of his work and have the foresight not to judge him on a season or even two. The truth of the matter is that most fans adopted Duke for they were consistent winners. The vast majority of Duke Basketball fans do not pull for the football program and that in a sense makes them bandwagon fans.  And trust me.  When the day comes when Krzyzewski does retire, many will fall off the ship in droves.  Most of you weren’t around when Krzyzewski put in the hard work to revitalize the program when it was in the doldrums.  What I am saying is that he has built Duke into the winner they are today with blood, sweat and surely some occasional tears. And Bandwagon fans are hard to please for they think it’s their birthright to win every game, every season and when this doesn’t happen, they ask what’s wrong, each suddenly having all the answers and taking on the role of “Coach Couch.” Nothing is wrong folks, save a dose of reality. It’s not easy to win year in and year out. It’s not easy to win national titles or even ACC Championships, yet the Duke program has done so and if the “Balance God’s,” are listening, they gave the Blue Devils several breaks along the way for more success than pretty much every other fan base out there. Yes. Most of you have become quite spoiled as fans. Anyhow, let me get back on track here by saying there is always a lot going on behind the scenes and the margin for error in going out early in the NCAA’s is a small one in this day and time. I mean, it’s not like any one program is dominating the scene at this time and you don’t have to look far to see other behemoths like Kansas and North Carolina are also at home seeking distractions until the season ends. Duke Basketball is way too big to let one season bring them down. And it’s not like they didn’t get some big wins, but they simply fell short of goals and it happens. Anyhow, some of you can go back to harping on one and done types, live in the 90’s and such. The truth of the matter is that it is simply a time for adjustment. That adjustment could be a few simple tweaks but there is no reason the believe they will not be made. Duke Basketball is alive and well, just a little wounded at the moment. Tomorrow, Krzyzewski will address the media and you can bet that we’ll learn a lot more at that time. He’s always shared more after than season than in season and we can expect him to address many issues. That said, stay tuned, for we’ll be here to bring you what he says.  Until then, might I suggest some take a step back to realize how lucky you are to be a Duke fan.  When you are truly on board with your team, you accept their struggles and their joys.  Fortunately for the Duke fan base, we know which of those occurs most often.  The balance of things in the college basketball world have clearly been in the corner of Duke for decades, putting the program in the fortunate rare air all want to breath.

The Path to the Final Four

It’s time to gear up for the Greatest Show on Earth. There’s a lot to process: historical trends and computer rankings and figuring out what Seth Greenberg said. Bracket Which Cinderellas will pull off the upsets. What top seed will fall flat on its face?

Most importantly, what does it take to reach the Final Four?

That last one might be particularly pressing for Duke fans —
how come Duke made the Final Four seven times in nine years from 1986 to 1994 but only once in nine years from 2005 to 2013. Did those early teams have some special something Duke’s more recent teams lacked?

We’ll get Duke-specific later. For now, an evaluation of the past 29 NCAA tournaments (since 1985, the year the tourney went to 64 teams) suggests the most important “something” is probably a factor most people haven’t spent all that much time thinking about. Perhaps because the teams themselves have no control over it; possibly because it isn’t knowable in advance. So what is this magic factor that has so much control over which teams makes the Final Four and which don’t?

Who the teams play.

Not who they’re supposed to play, but the actual path facing a team on its journey to the promised land. For example, last season the expected path for 2nd seeded Duke was to play the following seeds in the following order: 15-7-3-1. And that’s exactly the seeds Duke played. Similarly, 1-seeds face an expected path of 16-8-4-1. And assuming for the moment that 8-seeds and 9-seeds are equivalent for our current purposes, that’s the exact path three of last season’s four 1-seeds took (though they each ended the trip at a different point). The only 1-seed that took a different path? That would be Louisville, which played 12-seed Oregon instead of 4-seed St. Louis in the Sweet 16. Louisville also happened to be the only 1-seed to make the Final Four. Coincidence?

Maybe. But the fact is that top-four seeds (teams seeded 1, 2, 3, or 4) have run “chalk” (their expected path) a total of 212 times since 1985 and have made the Final Four only 17 of those times (8.0%). When those same teams have played at least one game against earlier upset winners (“non-chalk”), they’ve made the Final Four 82 out of 252 chances (32.5%). Four times more likely would be a pretty big coincidence.

Let’s break it down further. Here’s how the different seeds have fared since 1985 (with 5-seeds thrown in for good measure):

Seed Chalk Played Chalk Final Fours Chalk % Success Non-Chalk Played Non-Chalk Final Fours Non-Chalk % Success
1 (vs. 8-seeds only) 28 8 28.6% 88 39 44.3%
1 (8/9 seeds equivalent) 48 12 25.0% 68 35 51.5%
2 43 4 9.3% 73 21 28.8%
3 65 3 4.6% 51 11 21.6%
4 76 2 2.6% 40 11 27.5%
5 97 0 0.0% 19 6 31.6%

In fairness, the above figures include first-round upsets, because technically, when a 14-seed beats a 3, the 3-seed played chalk. So, here’s what the table looks like for teams that managed to beat their first round opponent:

Seed Chalk Played Chalk Final Fours Chalk % Success Non-Chalk Played Non-Chalk Final Fours Non-Chalk % Success
1 (vs. 8-seeds only) 28 8 28.6% 88 39 44.3%
1 (8/9 seeds equivalent) 48 12 25.0% 68 35 51.5%
2 36 4 11.1% 73 21 28.8%
3 48 3 6.3% 51 11 21.6%
4 51 2 3.9% 40 11 27.5%
5 56 0 0.0% 19 6 31.6%

Slightly different percentages, but the song remains the same. Even without counting first round upsets, top seeds are twice as likely to make the Final Four if one of their expected opponents falls prey to an upset. 2-seeds are almost three times more likely, 3-seeds almost five times more likely, and 4-seeds more than six times more likely. And no 5-seed has ever made the Final Four through a chalk path.

We tend to think of upsets as huge surprises. We know they do happen, of course, but in the NCAA tournament we pretty much always expect the favorite to win, or if it doesn’t we think the favorite was flawed, not as good as advertised. Except that’s not the way things work, either statistically or in real life.

If a team is favored to beat another team nine times out of ten, while the favorite could certainly win ten games in a row, the expectation would be that team would lose one game in a ten game series. That one could be the first game in the series, the last game, or any game in between. Or it may not happen at all. Put another way, if Team A had a 90% chance to beat team B, and the teams played ten games, the probability that Team A would win all ten games would be: (0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9)*(0.9), which equals 34.9%. The odds would be nearly 2 to 1 against Team A winning all ten.

In a one-and-done situation, who knows if and when the “one” will come up?

A more pertinent example would be to apply this idea to the NCAA tournament. Using Ken Pomeroy’s rating system to determine the probabilities, last season Duke had the following chance to make the Elite Eight:

0.9358 (chance of beating Albany) * 0.6427 (chance of beating Creighton) * 0.5562 (chance of beating Michigan State).

Multiplying it out, Duke’s probability of winning those three games came to 33.45%. Again, a 2 to 1 chance against (although fortunately Duke beat the odds).

On the other side of the 2013 Midwest bracket, Louisville had a 63.5% chance to reach the Elite Eight, thanks in large part to a weaker set of expected opponents. Then Louisville got another boost when 12-seed Oregon beat the region’s 4-seed and 5-seed to face Louisville in the Sweet 16, upping Louisville’s Elite Eight chances to 70.1%. Better than 2 to 1 in favor. If you’d switched Duke and Louisville, Duke’s chances against Louisville’s opponents would have been 51.6%, while Louisville’s chances against Duke’s opponents would have been 54.3%. Essentially two coin flips. The actual path matters.

Employing the same method using the last five years of pre-Tournament Pomeroy data, averaging for each seed, here are the expected probabilities of each top-8 seed winning its first game:

1-seed: 96.2% (actual performance over 29 years: 100%)
2-seed: 92.1% (actual over 29 years: 94.0%)
3-seed: 81.7% (actual over 29 years: 85.3%)
4-seed: 79.5% (actual over 29 years: 78.5%)
5-seed: 64.6% (actual over 29 years: 64.7%)
6-seed: 58.2% (actual over 29 years: 66.4%)
7-seed: 54.7% (actual over 29 years: 60.3%)
8-seed: 56.1% (actual over 29 years: 48.3%)

So when people joke about how 12-seeds always beat 5-seeds, the answer is they beat them almost exactly the amount you’d expect based on the probabilities. If anything (other than 9s beating 8s), we get slightly fewer upsets than we should.

Expanding to all games in a seed’s expected path (using the same five years of Pomeroy pre-Tournament data), the chance of each top-4 seed to advance in the tournament is as follows:

1-seed: 73.4% chance of making Sweet 16; 48.9% chance of making Elite Eight; 30.5% chance of making Final Four;
2-seed: 63.4% chance of making Sweet 16; 36.5% chance of making Elite Eight; 15.4% chance of making Final Four;
3-seed: 49.6% chance of making Sweet 16; 22.7% chance of making Elite Eight; 8.2% chance of making Final Four;
4-seed: 47.1% chance of making Sweet 16; 16.6% chance of making Elite Eight; 8.0% chance of making Final Four;

Even for the best teams, the odds are against them. The team in the last five years with the highest probability against its expected path to reach the Final Four was 2010 Duke, with a 47.1% chance, but even that team was more likely than not to miss out on the Final Four. Which is why the early round upsets are so important, because like Louisville last year, playing a 12 instead of a 4 can really boost your odds.

But does it really work like that in real life? Let’s take a closer look:

AFTER FIRST ROUND

Seed After Facing # games # Final Fours Pct.
1 8 56 22 39.2%
1 9 60 25 41.7%
2 7 67 17 25.3%
2 10 42 8 19.0%
3 6 63 8 12.7%
3 11 36 6 16.7%
4 5 61 7 11.5%
4 12 30 6 20.0%

AFTER SECOND ROUND

Seed After Facing # games # Final Fours Pct.
1 4 43 17 39.5%
1 5 35 15 42.9%
1 >5 23 15 65.2%
2 3 36 10 27.8%
2 6 28 9 32.1%
2 >6 11 6 54.5%
3 2 37 8 21.6%
3 >2 23 6 26.1%
4 1 43 10 23.3%
4 >1 8 3 37.5%

AFTER THIRD ROUND

Seed After Facing # games # Final Fours Pct.
1 2 39 19 48.7%
1 3 20 12 60.0%
1 >3 21 16 76.2%
2 1 39 20 51.3%
2 >1 15 5 33.3%
3 1 20 8 40.0%
3 >1 10 6 60.0%
4 2 or 3 11 7 63.6%
4 >3 7 6 85.7%

In almost every case, having your expected path derailed by an upset winner increases your chances to reach the Final Four. And not surprisingly, the bigger the upset, the more your odds go up. Not really rocket science, is it?

So that’s all well and good, but what about Duke? Can we really explain 7 Final Fours in 9 years vs. 1 Final Four in 9 years based on paths and “chalk”?

Maybe we can.

From 1985 to 1994, Duke played “chalk” only twice. The 1992 team was dominant enough to get through the chalk path to the Final Four (although it took a Christian Laettner miracle to do it) but the 1993 team missed the Final Four. That means the team played 8 “non-chalk” paths in the time period. Not counting the 1987 team that wasn’t a top-four seed, the team made the Final Four through 6 of those 7 easier paths. From 1995 to 2004, Duke failed to make the tourney once and once wasn’t a top-four seed, but all 8 of the other years were non-chalk paths, leading to 3 Final Fours. Playing chalk only twice in 17 opportunities was remarkably lucky.

That luck seemed to run out in the 2005 to 2013 period. Not counting the 2007 team that wasn’t a top-four seed, the team played 5 chalk paths out of 8, and failed to reach the Final Four through any of them. Of the 3 non-chalk paths in the period, Duke made one Final Four. And two of the non-chalk teams were only non-chalk because Duke played a 5-seed instead of a 4-seed.

Overall, Duke has played 7 chalk paths and reached the Final Four once out of 7 (14.3%) and played 18 non-chalk paths and made the Final Four in 10 of those (55.6%). How does that compare to other schools?

Counting teams that have either been a top-four seed five or more times or have made a Final Four from a top-four seed, such teams have performed as follows:

Chalk paths*: 176; 21 reached Final Four (11.9%)
Non-chalk paths: 198; 77 reached Final Four (38.9%)

* – For the purposes of this subsection, we’re counting 8-seeds and 9-seeds as equivalent.

Duke slightly outperformed such teams along chalk paths and significantly outperformed them along non-chalk paths. It’s also worth noting that of the 21 teams that have gotten through chalk paths to the Final Four, six of those teams won the national championship (including Duke’s 1992 team), and a seventh team, 1985 Georgetown was totally dominant until it ran into Villanova and perhaps the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament. Maybe some teams are so much better than everyone else that the chalk doesn’t bother them? Who knows?

The above grid counted your average Joe. How’s it look if we only take the “elite”? Well, counting teams that have had a 4-seed or better in 10 or more tournaments, the performance grid looks like this:

Chalk paths: 116; 15 reached Final Four (12.9%)
Non-chalk paths: 132; 57 reached Final Four (43.2%)

Not very different, relative to Duke. Here’s a detailed grid of the 17 “elite” teams that comprise the latter grid:

Team Chalk Played Chalk Final Fours Chalk % Success Non-Chalk Played Non-Chalk Final Fours Non-Chalk % Success
Duke 7 1 14.3% 18 10 55.6%
Arizona 8 1 12.5% 8 3 37.5%
Connecticut 2 0 0.0% 11 4 36.4%
Georgetown 6 1 16.7% 5 1 20.0%
Illinois 9 1 11.1% 2 1 50.0%
Indiana 8 1 12.5% 2 1 50.0%
Kansas 14 2 14.3% 10 5 50.0%
Kentucky 5 3 60.0% 13 3 23.1%
Louisville 5 0 0.0% 7 4 57.1%
Michigan 5 0 0.0% 5 3 60.0%
Michigan State** 10 1 10.0% 5 5 100.0%
North Carolina 10 3 30.0% 11 5 45.4%
Ohio State 5 0 0.0% 7 3 42.9%
Oklahoma 6 0 0.0% 8 2 25.0%
Pittsburgh 7 0 0.0% 3 0 0.0%
Syracuse 6 0 0.0% 10 4 40.0%
UCLA 3 1 33.3% 7 3 42.9%

** – Michigan State has made two Final Fours from a 5-seed, and has been seeded 5th half a dozen times over the years, so the Spartans’ totals in this grid include the team’s appearances as a 5-seed, while the other teams in the grid reflect 1- through 4-seeds only.

Only two of the teams perform significantly better than Duke against chalk. The fact that those teams are Kentucky and North Carolina may possibly cause some angst among Duke fans, but at that level it’s a pretty small sample.

What’s it all mean? Well, next time you’re tempted to evaluate a team’s entire season based on its NCAA tournament performance, remember that a great deal of that showing was dictated by circumstances entirely outside the team’s and coach’s control. Sure, basketball isn’t played in a calculator, and the teams still have to win (or lose) the games. But the fact remains it’s a lot easier to win when the odds are stacked in your favor, and a lot harder when they aren’t.

Duke Basketball Notebook

Clemson v DukeAnd the parings are in …

The good news is that Duke will play in Raleigh which is less than a thirty minute ride without traffic from campus.  Another positive note is that there are far worse places to play like Anaheim, California, so should Duke advance, Indianapolis is familiar turf for the staff in that Duke won their last national title in the venue.  While Duke will certainly not look ahead, it’s hard for fans not to do the same and with that said let’s do so.  Trust me when I say the play in-game between Iowa and Tennessee is likely to win two games and face Duke.  I say that because in my mind both teams could conceivably beat a much higher seed in UMass.  The streaky Vols demolished Virginia earlier this season that they look to be a troublesome match up with their athleticism should it take place.  If Duke moves past the aforementioned teams in Raleigh, they will then likely have a rematch with Michigan and it’s simply not easy to beat a good team twice.  If they make it to the final, they will likely find defending national Champion Louisville, Kentucky or the nation’s top rated and undefeated team in Wichita State.  No road is easy but if the Blue Devils make it to Dallas, they will certainly have earned a spot.  Duke will play in an open to the public practice this Thursday from 1:30 to 2:10 in Raleigh

After review …

When you are at the game live, you catch many things some miss on television.  Of course, there are times when that flips and after watching a replay of the game I found myself almost wanting to participate in what some call “Terping.”  If you are wondering what “Terping,” is, let me share that some in the media refer to it as an off the cuff remark about complaining in general with the usual emphasis being on officiating.  Before I go further, let me say that I still think Virginia earned their win.  I am not saying Duke didn’t want this game but I will say I think the Cavaliers may have more and they made the plays to secure a win.  You’ve all heard the phrase the tie goes to the runner in baseball.  Well, it seemed like every even call went the Cavaliers way, save a couple.  I cannot remember a game where Duke shot just 11 free throws to their opponents 38.  That is quite the gap.  And let’s not forget the two technical fouls, one certainly earned, the other questionable.  What some may have missed is Coach Mike Krzyzewski trying to get Jamie Luckies attention but was ignored and that led to him throwing a sharpie and that is where the technical came from.  Trust me, if a team is going to get a tech, they want to get their moneys worth and a word in and Krzyzewski was left miffed.  It was a very critical call in that Duke had the ball as well and it played into Virginia taking solid momentum into halftime after a Duke comeback.  During the post game press conference, Krzyzewski mentioned that Jabari Parker went to the line for three shots on twenty-four field goal attempts.  “That was ridiculous, shameful,” said Krzyzewski twice and while I am not sure the outcome would have been altered on this day, I must agree that the numbers were clearly in the favor of the victors.

Yes Virginia!  It was a tough loss ..

It was a tough loss.  When you get a chance to win a title in the new expanded ACC, you have to take the bull by the horns for the title will not come easy moving forward.  I mean, look how long it took Virginia to return to center court and see the confetti fall.  It was a great season for Virginia and Tony Bennett who got my Coach of the Year vote.  What it apparent is that this team hasn’t really win anything this season.  A tough schedule gave them little hope of a regular season title and falling short in the ACC Tournament is something they will have to put behind them quickly.  By Duke’s lofty standards, this could be considered a “mildly,” disappointing season to date.  But that’s what March is for in that if they make a run, all past shortcomings will soon be forgotten provided they are still playing.

Notes – Duke forward Jabari Parker has been named the 2014 Integris Wayman Tisdale Award winner as announced by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Monday.

Chase Jeter
January 18, 2014

Chase Jeter Talks Duke, Post-Visit

When it comes to reporting on how national basketball recruits’ official on-campus visits have gone, the national media seems to need to trip all over each other to get the first breathless report up, even if all it says is the visit “went well.” Great information, huh? I have found that sometimes if you wait a few days, let the young man and his family get home, take a breath, and sort their feelings out, you get a much clearer view of what they may be thinking.

With Chase Jeter, the 6’10” forward out of Las Vegas (Class of 2015) who visited last weekend for the UNC game, [ even after settling back in at home with his family and having a week to think about it, he still seems to be glowing from the experience he had in [private] Durham.

Chase Jeter January 18, 2014
Chase Jeter
January 18, 2014

It’s not that Jeter and his family did anything so unusual during the weekend. He and his mom and dad arrived on a rainy Friday morning, had lunch with Coach K and the staff, watched practice in the afternoon, and had dinner that evening with Luke Kennard and the Kennard family. On Saturday they enjoyed a campus tour, and just relaxed and hung out with the current players and some future ones before that evening’s game against the Tar Heels.

Jabari Parker was tasked with being Chase’s “shadow” for the weekend, and that can’t be bad, right? But Chase, Luke, and Myles Turner also hung out a lot with Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Rasheed Sulaimon, among others. He was really impressed by what he saw all weekend, stating that the campus and the facilities exceeded his expectations – he was surprised the campus was as big as it is.

Once at Cameron for the game, Chase was essentially blown away by what he experienced, describing it as an “insane atmosphere.” It was his first time in Cameron, and in fact his first time on campus or indeed in the state of North Carolina, and he thought the fans were awesome.

But the time Chase got to spend with the coaches was a very important part of the visit as well. Of course he was able to continue to develop his relationship with his primary recruiter – Wojo – but he also took the opportunity to get to know Coaches Capel and James a whole lot better, and to connect with Coach K in his natural habitat.

The most interesting comments Chase made in today’s interview were when he described how special being a Duke basketball player would be. Why? Because he learned about, and saw up close, “the pride and passion of having Duke across your chest.” “Duke is filled with top notch students and athletes, and everyone is just genuine people, top of the line. Elite all the way.” He stated that he has not seen anywhere like it, mainly because of the quality of the people involved at the university and within the basketball program.

Chase’s parents, Kim and Chris, felt the same way; according to Chase, they “loved” the whole experience.

So where does this leave us with young Mr. Jeter? Well, he did have a great visit to Arizona recently too, though that was an unofficial visit and the trip to Duke was an official. But Sean Miller’s program is attractive to him too, as their facilities and fans impressed him. Chase stated that Arizona and Duke are his “top two maybe” but was quick to add that many other schools remain in the mix, mentioning UCLA, Oregon, Kansas, and UNC, among others. But still, even when discussing the fact that many other schools are under consideration, he mentioned again that Duke was “awesome.”

How is he going to decide? He’s a thoughtful young man, and his parents are smart and caring people too. This is not going to be a rash decision. But Chase did mention that he’ll be watching the NCAA Tournament, and that how his suitors do in the tournament may in fact be a factor for him, because he wants to be part of a winning program.

Chase refuted the rumors that he is going to be reversing field and making a quick decision. The timeline he told me he had back in January stands – he anticipates making a decision in the spring, possibly late April or early May.

There is no way to know exactly what is going through a young man’s mind when he has this many people, this many famous coaches, this much media, coming at him all the time. But Chase Jeter is a pretty grounded (off the basketball court) kid, from a great family, who obviously feels that Duke made a very positive impression on him last weekend in Durham, and can see himself fitting in on this campus and wearing the Duke blue uniform.[/private]

 

Amile and Rodney

Duke set to take on the Tigers

Amile and RodneyThe Duke Blue Devils will be the last ACC team to play this evening as they take on Clemson. This game will come down to many intangibles and with that said, let’s take a look at them.

The revenge factor

Duke travelled to Clemson earlier in the season and lost 72-59 and let’s face it the Blue Devils haven’t lost to the Tiger that often. One would think this would bring about a bit of a revenge factor if you will. Losing twice to the Tigers in one season, despite the fact they are a decent club would be devastating to a Duke team hoping to keep up a tradition of excellence.

Hungry Tigers

What could easily off set a possible Duke revenge effort is a hungry team. Clemson will likely need to beat Duke to gain an NCAA birth and this will make for some serious effort. Clemson currently stands at 20 wins.

The lay off

Duke has not fared well after long lay offs and with a 9:45 or so start this could be a factor. Duke struggled to defeat Maryland in Cameron after and early season lay off and we all know what happened at Wake Forest.

This means Duke needs to get off to a quick start

One of the things I will be watching is how the Blue Devils start the game. Will said lay off have the team rusty? A slow start could also give Clemson team confidence and teams can do amazing things when they have momentum riding with them.

Block out, Devils

In the first game, Duke let up a lot of easy basket not blocking out and Clemson is athletic and springy on the boards. They advanced past Georgia Tech with follow up and hustle buckets and Duke will need to match that energy.  Clemson knocked down their free throws in a big way against Tech and keeping them off the boards will eliminate several opportunities to go to the line.

Duke in ACC Tournament Notes


Duke at ACC Tournament Quarterfinal

March 14, 2014 • 9 p.m.

Greensboro, N.C. • Greensboro Coliseum (23,300)

ESPN • ACC Network

Blue Devil IMG Sports Network • ESPN Radio

The Opening Tip

• Duke earned the No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament and will play in the quarterfinal Friday, March 14, at 9 p.m. Duke will face one of sixth-seeded Clemson, 11th-seeded Georgia Tech or 14th-seeded Boston College. The game will air on ESPN, the ACC Network and the Blue Devil IMG Sports Network.

• Duke enters the tournament ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke has been ranked in the top 10 in 14 of the 19 polls this season. Duke is 79-22 all-time when playing as the No. 7 team in the AP poll.

• Duke is 18-2 when playing in the state of North Carolina this season. Duke went 17-0 at home in Cameron Indoor Stadium and lost at North Carolina (66-74) and Wake Forest (72-82).

• The Blue Devils have played one game at Greensboro Coliseum, defeating Elon, 86-48, on Dec. 31, 2013.

The Last Time Out

• Jabari Parker turned in one of the all-time great performances in the history of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, scoring 30 points with 11 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils past the Tar Heels, 93-81. Parker hit 10-of-17 field goals and 8-of-9 shots from the free throw line.

• Parker’s 30 points were the most by a Duke freshman in the Duke-North Carolina series, while his 30-10 performance was only the eighth under head coach Mike Krzyzewski (five players).

• Rodney Hood added 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting for Duke as he and Parker combined for a season-high 54 points in the win.

• Duke outrebounded North Carolina 34-20 and pulled down 16 offensive boards.

• The win wrapped up an undefeated home season for the Blue Devils, who finished 17-0 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke has gone undefeated at home in back-to-back seasons and 18 times overall.

By The Numbers

• Duke went 17-0 in Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, marking the second straight undefeated season at home for the Blue Devils. Duke has won 33 consecutive games at home, tied for the longest active streak in the country. Duke has gone undefeated at home 18 times.

• Duke owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.50:1, which would rank as the second-highest ratio since Duke began tracking turnovers in the 1970-71 season. The Blue Devils logged a school-record 1.51:1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, bettering the previous school record of 1.32 set in 2000-01.

• Freshman Jabari Parker was named to the USBWA, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated All-America first teams, becoming the first Duke freshman to earn All-America first team honors. Parker is only the second Duke freshman to earn All-America status, joining Austin Rivers, who received the honor from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) in 2011-12.

• Parker was named ACC Freshman of the Year after leading the ACC during the regular season in rebounds (9.0 rpg.) and double-doubles (14), ranking second in scoring (19.2 ppg.) and 20-point games (16) and third in field goal percentage (.487 – 209-of-429). Parker is only the fourth freshman in conference history to lead the league in rebounds.

• Parker is one of just six freshmen since 1997 to average at least 19 points and nine rebounds a game. The others were Kevin Durant (Texas – 2007), Michael Beasley (Kansas State – 2008), Kris Humphries (Minnesota – 2004), Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse – 2003) and Troy Murphy (Notre Dame – 1998).

• Rodney Hood has hit a three-pointer in 28 consecutive games and in 30 of Duke’s 31 games this season. The 6-8, 215-pound forward has hit a team-high 65 treys this season while shooting .425 (65-of-153) from behind the arc, second in the league behind only teammate Andre Dawkins (.433 – 61-of-141).

• Andre Dawkins scored his 1,000th career point this past Saturday against North Carolina, becoming the 63rd player to join Duke’s 1,000-point club. Dawkins is averaging a career-best 8.4 points per game this season.

• Tyler Thornton has a team-leading 3.90 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season while averaging 2.4 assists per game. He has just three games with more than one turnover this season, including 16 games with zero turnovers.