We all knew this day was coming, what could be the final time that Maryland and Duke will play in basketball. We all have so many fond memories of this rivalry and the impending move to the B1G, despite the enormous upside, becomes instantly diminished when you remember back to things like that 2004 ACC Tournament win, those four games between the schools in the 2000-2001 season, and even the Vasquez/Hayes/Milbourn senior night game.
The Duke-Maryland rivalry has always been special to me, because without it, I probably wouldn't have gone out on my first date with my wife. We met through a mutual friend at a happy hour in the winter of 2007 and upon meeting her, I learned she had gone to Duke for grad school. Of course I pointed out to her that Maryland had beaten Duke a few weeks earlier, which she wasn't thrilled about. We exchanged emails about some career stuff (we're both in the Environmental field), and I decided to ask her out, utilizing a unique approach. The NCAA tournament was coming up in a few weeks and both teams were clearly going to be in it (ahh, the glory days), so I proposed that the person who's team was eliminated first from the Big Dance had to take the other person out to dinner AND wear a jersey from the other's school.
Fortunately for me, Maryland beat Davidson in the first round while Duke lost to VCU. Good thing, because I don't think I could have brought myself to wear a J.J. Redick jersey had Duke gone further.
We continued dating, got married and a month ago, welcomed our first child into the world, a baby girl. But throughout those years together, we've always had to hit a "pause" button when Duke and Maryland played. But after Saturday, just thinking that we won't have that yearly tradition moving forward is a little sad, as if a part of what brought us together is dying.
I'm 100% on board the B1G train, but I will miss the ACC. I'll miss playing Duke. And I'll miss enjoying the rivalry between my wife and I in the future. But I digress...
Players to watch
Jabari Parker, 6-8, 235 lbs., Fr., Forward
Parker is good. He's national player of the year good. KenPom currently has him ranked as the #2 player in his Player of the Year calculation. He's averaging 19.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, protects the rim...he's a beast. When he's on the court, he's Duke's go to guy, taking 33% of the Blue Devils shots, which ranks 26th. He can do just about anything, is really hard to guard, and could be a nightmare for Maryland on Saturday. He can step back and hit a three at a decent 36.7% and if he gets the ball near the rim, chances are he's going to score. If you foul him, he's knocking down 74% of his free throws.
Rasheed Sulaimon 6-4 190 lbs, So., Guard
What does Maryland at times struggle with this year? Defending the three. What does Sulaimon do really well? Make three pointers. He's shooting an amazing 49.1% from beyond the arc on 55 attempts this season. He's averaging 9.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg and 2.5 apg. His offensive rating is 146th nationally and he doesn't turn the ball over too often.
Rodney Hood 6-8 215 So., Forward
Hood is good. He's especially efficient with his shots, ranking 75th in offensive rating and 59th in true shooting percentage. He's second on Duke in scoring, putting up 16.5 ppg to go along with 4.5 rpg and 2.1 apg. He's on the court a lot for Duke, playing 80.5% of the minutes available to him. He also leads Duke in eFG%, where he ranks 110th nationally.
Amile Jefferson 6-9 210 lbs, So., Center
Jefferson is only averaging 7 ppg, along with 6.8 rpg, but his offensive rating is second best on what is a very talented Duke team, ranking 19th nationally. He's also a fantastic rebounder, ranking 15th in offensive rebounding percentage and 52nd in defensive rebounding percentage. He doesn't turn the ball over very often and he blocks a fair number of shots.
Tyler Thornton 6-2, 190 lbs, Sr., Guard
Thornton is Duke's starting senior point guard. He splits time with Quinn Cook, who comes off the bench, but in his time on the court, he's extremely efficient with him minutes. His offensive rating ranks second nationally and he has the 52nd best steal percentage. While he only averages 3.2 ppg, he's been deadly from three point range, which means he'll probably have a career high against Maryland, knocking down 52.6% of his attempts.
Quinn Cook 6-2, 180 lbs, Jr, Guard
Ah, Mr. Cook. He of the "D.C. is my city" fame. The junior guard from D.C. is coming off the bench for the Blue Devils, averaging 12.3 ppg, which is third best on the team. He's also dishing out 5.2 apg and pulling down 2.4 rpg. Cook's assist rate ranks 109th nationally and his offensive rating checks in at 171st. He leads Duke in three pointers attempted, but he's only making them at a 35.2% clip. He also leads the team in steals per game at 1.3.
Andre Dawkins 6-5 215 Sr., Guard
Hasn't he graduated yet?I feel like Dawkins has been on Duke forever. Dawkins is currently coming off the bench for Duke yet he's the 4th leading scorer for the Blue Devils at 9.5 ppg. Despite averaging just 15 minutes per game, Dawkins has taken the second most three point attempts on the team with 116, but he's making 47.4% of those attempts. He gets the nomination for guy most likely to come off the bench and score a career high against Maryland.
Duke does a lot of things well, which is why KenPom has them ranked as the 3rd best team nationally. Their adjusted efficiency as a team ranks 1st nationally, their effective FG% ranks 8th, as does their turnover percentage. They're making 42% of their three pointers as a team, which is 3rd best, and their steal percentage ranks 26th. As an opponent for this year's Maryland team, they'll be a nightmare matchup, especially on the road, where Maryland is already struggling as a team.
Statistically, there aren't too many areas where Duke has a weakness the Terps could exploit. Maryland is marginally better at rebounding, but that's about the only area where they could have an advantage. The only other weakness Duke has, which won't necessarily show up on a stat sheet, is that they can become lazy and complacent during a game. It happened in their loss to Notre Dame and to Clemson. I wouldn't count on it happening on Saturday, in Cameron Indoor, in what will likely be the final matchups between the teams, but there is that glimmer of hope.
KenPom prediction: No surprisingly, KemPom thinks Duke will have no problem beating Maryland, giving Duke a 91% chance of winning and predicting a 16 point margin of victory with a 88-72 final score.
Our prediction: Duke is just a nightmare match up for this Maryland team. They'd have to play seemingly perfect basketball on the road, at Cameron Indoor, and would still need Duke to not be at their best in order to have a shot at winning. I don't think it will be as bad as that 40 point loss a few years ago, but I wouldn't hold your breath for a miracle victory, either. Sadly, Duke wins rather easily, 76-60.