Quick Preview: The newly-crowned No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (9-0) take on the Cornell Big Red (4-5) in a match-up of two very different teams.
Start time: 7pm (ET)
The Duke Blue Devils return from an eleven-day break with a 9-0 record, a shiny new No. 1 ranking, and a match-up against the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red this afternoon.
Duke (9-0, #1), who received all but three of the first-place votes in the most recent AP Poll, matches up well with Cornell, who is currently sitting near the bottom of college basketball in Points Per Game (63.9, 259th in the nation), Field Goal Percentage (.394, 304th in the nation), assists (12.0, 233rd in the nation), and numerous other categories. By a wide margin, the Big Red’s most significant problems lie on the offensive end, where they lack dependable scorers capable of giving Cornell consistent offensive outputs. Their biggest threat is Sophomore Shonn Miller, a 6’7 and highly athletic forward who took home the Ivy League Freshman-of-the-Year honors last season. Miller has increased his output this season, improving in most statistical categories, including PPG (10.3), STL (2.0), RPG (8.2), APG (1.2), BPG (1.9), and FTP (86.8%). After Miller, however, Cornell is a mess of inconsistency and lackluster performance, with no other player averaging more than 8.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, or 2.9 APG.
The obvious observation to make here: Cornell doesn’t have the firepower to hang with Duke, as all five Blue Devils’ starters average more than Cornell’s Miller, their top scorer. If the Big Red are going to have any chance in this game, they’re going to have to put together a near flawless performance on defense, a phase they haven’t been particularly bad at this season.
-Cornell, in their only other game against a Top-25 team this season, was smothered in a 73-40 loss against the then No. 22 ranked (now unranked) Wisconsin Badgers. In the loss, all five starters combined for thirteen points…thirteen.
-The contest will mark the first time Coach K and Co. will take the court as the No. 1 team in the nation since the 2010-2011 squad. That team, which featured Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith, held onto the top spot for eleven weeks before falling to Florida State.
-Indiana’s loss to Butler, which included a lackluster performance from star Cody Zeller, had to push Mason Plumlee in the lead for POY awards. Plumlee is currently averaging 19.2 PPG and 11.3 RPG, with his best performances coming against the tougher teams on the Blue Devils’ schedule.
-The game starts at 7pm (ET) and will be televised on ESPNU.