With just a couple days remaining before Duke’s second-round showdown with the Albany Great Danes, there is no better time to cram all the knowledge you can about the match-up into your (likely overwhelmed) college-basketball-filled brain. Grab your thinking caps, fellas, here there be numbers.
Part 1 – General Resume
The one positive that comes along with playing in a mid-major conference is that if you can put together a fairly talented team, you have a very serious shot at making the tournament. Most mid-major conferences (excluding the Mountain West, A-10, and West Coast Conferences) are riddled with mediocrity, leaving two or three teams to fight it out for the automatic berth. Basically, if you can put together a team that doesn’t suck, you have a fairly decent shot. The downside? The lower level of competition doesn’t leave you with much room to put together an impressive resume, and a slip-up in your conference tournament could leave you on the wrong side of the bubble, despite your impressive record. Albany is one of those teams that dealt one of those unfortunate losses, knocking off unanimous favorite Stony Brook in the conference tournament, banishing the more impressive Seawolves to the NIT and sending the Great Danes sprinting into March Madness. The only way you can really explain Albany’s surge, which saw them knock off Vermont and Stony Brook, who they were a combined 0-4 against in the regular season, is that they got hot at the right time. Most of the time, though, that is all it takes.
As for Duke, they faced a consistently strong level of competition, loading up their resume with key victories over Florida Gulf Coast, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, VCU, Minnesota, NC State, Miami, and North Carolina (twice!). The downside to this? The level of competition seemed to break them down, leading to a few ugly losses throughout the year. It comes with the territory, however, and it is one of the reasons why teams in major conferences receive far more respect than those from mid-major conferences (although that gap has begun to close in recent years).
So, with that said, let’s take a look at the team’s general resumes:
|Strength of Schedule||9.04 (8th)||-5.16 (299th)|
|SRS||-1.04 (175th)||21.91 (4th)|
|W-L vs Tourney Teams||11-2||0-1|
The Blue Devils were far more dominant against a far more dominant schedule. Not bad. Six of their first nine games were against teams that are in the NCAA Tournament and one of the three teams that isn’t was the Kentucky Wildcats, the defending national champs. Albany’s only game against a tournament team was a 82-60 blowout loss to Ohio State. Not exactly the prettiest of resumes.
Part 2 – Offense
These teams are polar opposites on offense. Duke runs an efficient spread offense that lives from beyond the arc, with Mason Plumlee being the only player who seems to operate primarily inside the arc. Albany, meanwhile, runs a slower offense, a result of their lack of athleticism and scorers. This isn’t to say Albany is a poor offensive team, but the numbers never lie:
|Stat (National Rank)||Duke||Albany|
|Scoring Offense||78.3 (6th)||64.4 (250th)|
|Field Goal Percentage||47.6% (17th)||43.8% (146th)|
|Offensive Rating||114.0 (9th)||102.2 (156th)|
|3P%||40.6% (4th)||36.4% (64th)|
|Turnovers||343 (16th)||455 (258th)|
|Free Throw %||73.2% (53rd)||73.4% (44th)|
The only category Albany tops Duke in is free throw shooting, where they hold an advantage by a whopping 0.2%. Advantage: Blue Devils
Part 3 – Defense
Defense: Duke’s achilles’ heel. The Blue Devils played uncharacteristically bad defense last season and nothing has changed this year. While they aren’t miserable, they’re nothing more than average in nearly every aspect. Albany excelled on defense in the American East Conference, which can be seen either as A) them being a legitimately strong defensive team or B) a lack of competition in the American East Conference. I choose to view it as a mixture of both, but I suppose we won’t know for sure until Friday.
|Stat (National Rank)||Duke||Albany|
|Defensive Rating||95.3 (69th)||95.7 (74th)|
|Defensive Rebounding||773 (198th)||722 (133rd)|
|Opponent PPG||65.4 (145th)||60.3 (36th)|
|Opponent FG%||41.8% (123rd)||42.2% (147th)|
|Steals||209 (177th)||185 (249th)|
|Blocks||121 (129th)||69 (300th)|
Yeah, Duke has been THAT bad this season. Coach K’s teams usually pride themselves on defense, but this hasn’t been the case at any point this year. Defense wins championships, and I feel this could ultimately lead to their downfall.
Part 4 – Players
Everyone likes seeing statistical leaders, so I threw in an extra table. You know, for funsies. (also because I was enjoying listening to lectures rather than focusing on my professor’s lecture on Thomas Kuhn this afternoon).
|PER||Kelly, 26.7||Rowley, 19.2|
|WS||Plumlee, 7.6||Rowley, 4.1|
|PPG||Plumlee, 17.2||Black, 14.9|
|RPG||Plumlee, 10.2||Rowley, 6.3|
|APG||Cook, 5.2||Hooley, 3.0|
What are your predictions for the game, Duke (and Albany!) fans? Sound off in the comment section below.