For the first time this season the nations top ranked team the Duke Blue Devils looked vulnerable at times in a recent win against Maryland. Duke pulled out a win and in the process pushed their season 2-0 in conference and 15-0 overall. Now the Blue Devils put on their travelling shoes as they head though a winter storm and go south to take on Florida State in Tallahassee.
There is reason to think that this could be Duke's biggest test to date for the Seminoles generally play well at home, especially when the nations top rated club comes to town. The home team is also coming off two consecutive losses, the most recent one on the road at Virginia Tech. That loss put their ACC record at 1-1 and overall they stand at 11-5. In short, a win over Duke would not only be a boost to their conference hopes, it would go a long ways towards March when the NCAA makes their selections.
Now, we've established that Duke will get Noles best shot, be it the wounded dog effect or the let's get pumped out of our minds for this one shtick. But why is this opponent especially dangerous? Let's start with their length and athleticism.
It's no secret that the Noles are led by Chris Singleton who ranks 6th in scoring and 5th in rebounding in the ACC. Singleton can slash his way through most every team and with Maryland star Jordan Williams having recent success, there is concern. Singleton is the go to guy and clearly the best scoring option.
While the rest of the team has a lot of balance on the offensive end, their defense as a collective is impressive. The Noles make teams look ugly. They hold their opposition to less points than any other team in the conference. There field goal percentage defense tops the league as well and they come in at third in the league in steals as well.
But the Noles can also board and they lead the conference in rebounding margin. And let's not forget they lead the league in blocked shots as well, swatting 7 a game.
Look for Florida State to pound the glass, especially on the offensive end where they pick up a ton of follow up baskets off said rebounds. So Duke will need to hold their own on the glass in order to win.
Look for the Noles to focus on the Duke seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler on defense and that means other Blue Devils must step up this evening. That didn't happen as much as one would like against the Terps, so a huge key will be for a third player to carry the scoring load.
But let's not underestimate Coach Mike Kryzyzewski for he gives Duke as good a chance at winning as any player. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that he makes some purposeful moves along the way. In short, I feel he sometimes relishes situations where he can hold back a bit in one game in order to teach and prepare for another. There's a lot more in between the lines in this statement but we'll let you use your imagination on the rest.
Every indicator points to a tough game tonight and BDN feels it will be just that, one of those contests which has a few swings will take place. And one of those games that will keep you on the edge of your seat. We see a tough, physical game and the Blue Devils winning streak could finally come to an end.
But in the end, we think the Blue Devils will make the adjustments and take home a close win. That is of course if they can find a way to knock down some threes against a team which tops the league and holds the opposition to .282 from the stripe. The pick is Duke 71-66