Will the Wolfpack be the first team to knock Duke off of their pedestal?
Tip-off is scheduled for Saturday at noon EST at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina and can be seen on ESPN.
5 Dimes Sportsbook currently lists Duke as a 4 point betting favorite and the total for the game is 149.
Will Duke remain #1 and unbeaten after Saturday? They’ve faced some high level competition and have passed every test. Inter-conference play brings added pressure, especially between the top two teams in the conference.
A Perfect Season?
Duke has a long way to go before that happens, but this is a team that’s battle tested. The Blue Devils have beaten teams such as Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, and Temple. They’ve also knocked off two above .500 teams in Wake Forest and Clemson quite easily. This can become a psychological thing. With a win today against N.C. State, Duke could have their eyes set on a perfect regular season or at least the ACC Conference Championship seems in the bag. The ACC Conference might not be as good as it once was, but Duke is clearly the best team in this conference.
Ryan Kelly Out Indefinitely!
Kelly sustained a right foot injury in the victory over Clemson. This is what I’ve been talking about with Duke’s lack of depth. Sure, the starters are the best in the country, but if 1 or 2 players go down, this ship can sink. Kelly is out indefinitely. He had been very hot as of late, going 21 of his last 31 from the field and lead’s Duke at 52.1% from 3 point range. Someone will definitely have to step up during Ryan Kelly’s absence. This is a big loss to the team.
Sophomore Quinn Cook, picked the right time to get hot. He shot 12 of 16 from the floor against Clemson with 27 points, 5 rebound, 5 assists, and 4 steals. This coming after an 0 for 11 performance against Wake Forest. For Duke to be legitimate title contenders without Ryan Kelly, look for Quinn Cook’s numbers to steadily increase. He’s a big money player
Tyler Thornton and Amile Jefferson will be seeing more minutes for Duke. This is their “One Shining Moment” to shine.
Putting Preasure on the #1 Team
The Wolfpack are a team that can shoot the lights out of the building. They average 81.3 points per game on 53% shooting from the field. This is the top shooting team in the nation and N.C. State would like to turn this into a track meet with Duke being 1 man short.
No Second Chances
C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell mind the boards well, Duke will need to shoot on target as N.C. State is also dominant on the boards. If Howell decides to shoot the ball, he’s a walking double-double. Regardless, he’s averaged 12 rebounds over his last 3 games. This game might come down to guard play.
Guard Lorenzo Brown is the equivalent to an all-purpose running back in football. He controls the action and can help the offense out in more than one way. He’s made a great impression on the ACC thus far. In his last game against Georgia Tech, Brown had 21 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks. I don’t think he could duplicate this performance against Duke, but look for Lorenzo Brown to play huge at home.
Duke has passed every test, but without Ryan Kelly, this will be their toughest test. Look for this to go down to the wire.
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