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Maryland-Duke Preview: No, Really, This is the Game of the Week

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[Note by Ben Broman, 02/12/10 11:54 PM EST - Bumped to the top of the page over Pe'Shon and the MM. This is gameday.]
  • Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC
  • When: 1:00
  • Where to Watch: CBS (!!!), Justin.tv (password is juanjuan)
  • Line: Duke by 9.
  • Notes: Game is for sole possession in first place in the ACC and happens to be Coach K's 1000th game and his 63rd birthday. Whoa.
Keys in Cliches:
  • Intensity. When Duke doesn't bring it (both the N.C. State and Georgia Tech losses were chalked up to lapses in "intensity" and "energy"), they don't do well. It's going to be tough to be more intense than Duke given the circumstances, but never count out Greivis Vasquez when it comes to emotion.
  • Limiting the Big 3. That's a big one I've already gone over, but just to reiterate: two of them don't score, and Duke struggles. They simply have no other offensive options.
  • Rebound and Limit Second Chances. I mentioned this in the first preview: Duke is a surprisingly strong offensive rebounding team. They have big bodies and simply fly to the ball. Keeping them from dominating the boards is a must, because Maryland isn't good enough to give them two or three shots (I don't think any team in the country is).
  • Take Advantage of Defensive Deficiencies - There are more than you might think. Especially with Lance Thomas presumed to be out, Duke is weak on defense both on the perimeter and in the middle. I'm not expecting Jordan Williams to dominate the low block, but he can do damage. It'll be up to Maryland's guards to move the ball efficiently and hit open shots. Duke has been torched defensively a few times this year, and it would help if Maryland could do it too.

Four Factors:

 

These teams are very well-matched offensively. The differences come in Duke's ability to get to the line and Duke's rebounding prowess. The first one can't be helped in Cameron Indoor; the second is already a key. This Duke team isn't that hard to figure out; they're just hard to stop.

Prediction: I'm both trying to avoid the blogger jinx and expressing my own belief: Duke by 12. KenPom has it at 9, and I think that's a little generous but pretty close. I just don't see Maryland going into Cameron and pulling it off on K's big day, especially with everyone riding so high right now. They'll put up a good fight and the game will be closer than the score, but I have a feeling Duke will clean the glass and end up with the win.

Unassorted Thoughts: No real rhyme or reason to these ones, basically the same as a stream of consciousness:

Kyle Singler worries me more than Jon Scheyer or Nolan Smith. Scheyer is great and I'd never say otherwise, but Singler is an x-factor of sorts. His versatility really makes him a difficult matchup. He's taller than he seems - 6'9" - and will probably be matched up with the 6'4" Sean Mosley. Sugar Sean's proven that he can guard bigger guys, but I'll remain worried nonetheless, because those bigger guys didn't possess Singler's skillset.

On that similar topic, I'm thinking that most people calling for an aggressive defense have it right. Duke needs the Big 3's, uh, threes, and playing up close would make it significantly harder for them to get them. Scheyer and Singler aren't exactly great off the bounce; I'd force them to beat Maryland off the dribble.

One thing that hasn't gotten enough talk from me, or anyone else, is Duke's size. This is one of the reasons I'm almost hoping Lance Thomas will play tomorrow. If he starts, Landon Milbourne is fine defensively. If he doesn't play, Mason Plumlee will take his minutes, and Landon will be stuck guarding 6-10 Mason Plumlee, 6-10 Miles Plumlee, or 7-1 Brian Zoubek.

Not exactly favorable matchups on Landon's end, and expecting him to get rebounds against those towers is probably asking too much, senior or not.

The flipside to the Thomas situation, though, is that if he doesn't play Duke becomes ridiculously thin. They would go 8 deep, with two of those eight being freshmen who have been limited in ACC play. Say the Plumlees get into foul trouble, and suddenly there's one man off the bench and Ryan Kelly is the PF. 

Extending on the lack of depth, Maryland is a much faster paced team than Duke. Getting Duke to play a breakneck, Clemson type of pace could wear them down, and they don't have very far down the bench to turn, especially if fouls play a factor.

Oh, and either Plumlee would be a significant defensive downgrade from Thomas. He's not a stud, but Thomas provided high-quality defense. That's one area Milbourne might have an advantage.

Despite a week to get ready, Greivis Vasquez hasn't unleashed any "my house" comments in regards to Cameron Indoor. I wouldn't be surprised to see him simply go off on the Dookies in his final chance to make up for the 40-pointer. I also wouldn't be surprised to see that strategy backfire.

Poll

What do you think the outcome of the Duke-Maryland game will be?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Surprising Maryland win (10+ margin)
    (54 votes)
  • 44%
    Close Maryland win (1-9 margin)
    (193 votes)
  • 20%
    Close Duke win (1-9 margin)
    (88 votes)
  • 22%
    Duke covers the spread (10+ margin)
    (98 votes)
433 votes total Vote Now