The Duke Blue Devils, who have played only once in 18 days, take on winless UNC Greensboro. The Spartans have become a de facto ACC team, having already faced Florida State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest and Clemson. Obviously you know it’s a bad season when you’re losing to Wake Forest, who has already suffered defeats to Stetson…actually, you know what, that’s all I really need to say about the state of Wake Forest basketball.
DUKE BLUE DEVILS
Since Kyrie Irving’s toes forced Andre Dawkins into the starting lineup, the spunky sophomore has shinned. He’s averaged over 15 per game, hitting a solid 16-28 from the field, including 11-20 from three.
While his 28-pt effort against Bradley was his best performance so far, I would argue his most important performance was his two-point effort against St. Louis. The fact is, I want this kid shooting, but I want him taking good shots. The Billikens game-planned for Dawkins and the shooting guard didn’t force up anything, letting his open teammates handle the scoring load.
Now I wouldn’t call Dawkins’ performance this year (53-percent from three) surprising, most people would have predicted that Seth Curry would be Duke’s best scoring option if either Kyrie Irving or Nolan Smith went down. Instead, Dawkins has become one of the best shooters in the nation and has, dare I say, a quiet cockiness about him right now.
TIME TO TINKER
So far this season Coach K has started eight different players. This is nothing new. He’s just trying to figure out what’s the best rotation heading into ACC play. I would expect nothing less tonight and I wouldn’t be shocked to see another three-guard look with Curry stepping in, while Singler goes to the 4-spot.
Over the years we all know Duke played three different types of road games. There’s the neutral site tournament, Cameron North (New York, New Jersey), and the “play at the a senior’s home state” game. I’ve been preaching for a long time now for them to get out there and play some real road games.
Technically this game is a “real” road game, it’s just too bad it’s not against a challenging opponent. Also, Greensboro? That’s like a bus ride away. They certainly could have done better. At least leave the state.
At the very least, since Duke is not the locals’ favorite flavor, the crowd should end up being somewhat hostile. At least until the Blue Devils blow this thing open early.
UNC GREENSBORO SPARTANS
HOW BAD ARE THE SPARTANS…
…They’re so bad, well I’ve already mentioned the 0-11 record, so there is that. According to Ken Pom, the Spartans are ranked 297th out of 345 schools. Their Adjusted defensive Efficiency is just 317th in the nation, they’re 337th in Defensive Effective FG% and their Defensive Rebounding% is 326th. What do all those numbers mean? It means if Duke doesn’t score over 100, it will feel like a victory to the Spartans. No really, but you get my point.
WHO TO WATCH FOR
Overall, the Spartans a deep team (nine should play tonight) and are surprisingly balanced in scoring (five players average at least eight per game). Forward Aloysius Henry is the team’s leading scorer. The junior who is seeing action for the first time in his college career is averaging 11.6 per game, leading the team in rebounds with over six per game.
The 6’10 forward does most of his damage around the rim, so Duke’s big men don’t have to sweat too many offensive moves. While Henry has never fouled out of a game this year, he does to tend to get into foul trouble. He picked up four fouls in six of his 11 games this year. One has to assume Duke’s more athletic front line can take full advantage of this.
STAT TO PAY ATTENTION TO
Listen, the Spartans can’t shoot (40-percent from the floor), they can’t hit free throws (66-percent) and they can’t hit their threes and they can’t pull down offensive rebounds. Of course none of that matters if they turn the ball over.
Now the Spartans’ guards aren’t tragic. Kyle Randall and Korey VanDussen have dished out 65 assists to just 51 turnovers. That’s not great, but it’s not that bad either. However, the rest of the team has just 52 assists to 124 turnovers.
WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Duke wins a yawner, 106-61