Duke did not play Michigan last year, a team that played for the National Championship. They play this season, December 3rd, in the 15th annual Big Ten vs ACC Challenge. This is one of a few key highlighted games for this season, for Duke and all of college basketball. It is one of many ranked teams that Duke is scheduled to play this season, and this is the best one I think they have to play. Michigan is missing the National Player of the Year in Trey Burke, but they are still an extremely talented team. They are one of eight teams I see fighting for the National Championship, so this will set up for a great game.
All stats are from last season unless stated otherwise.
•Duke: Quinn Cook (Jr) 11.7 ppg, 5.3 apg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 spg, at Duke.
•Michigan: Spike Albrecht (Soph) 2.2 ppg, 0.7 rpg, at Michigan.
Spike Albrecht is a very talented player, but he was not able to prove it last season. He played well when he was allowed to, scoring 17 points in the National Championship, but Trey Burke stole a lot of his minutes. Quinn Cook had a much bigger role for Duke last season, and excelled in his role. Quinn Cook has more experience and talent then Albrecht. Quinn Cook is not a high volume scorer, but could really take advantage of this match up by pressuring Albrecht into turnovers. Cook has the defensive ability to force Albrecht into turnovers, and that would greatly help Duke pull ahead in this game. Quinn Cook will likely win this match up but he will need to capitalize on it as much as possible.
•Duke: Rasheed Sulaimon (Soph) 11.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, at Duke.
•Michigan: Nik Stauskas (Soph) 11.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, at Michigan
Although they averaged similar stats, Rasheed Sulaimon is a much more dynamic player. Nik Stauskas excels as a shooter, and was greatly helped by the passing ability of Trey Burke. Without a great point guard, it will be interesting to see how well Stauskas performs. Stauskas also not an amazing defender, and will likely be forced to guard Rasheed Sulaimon. Sulaimon is much faster, and quicker off the dribble than Stauskas is able to guard. This advantage will hopefully be crucial to Duke getting Michigan’s bigs, especially Mitch McGary, in foul trouble. Having a solid defender on Stauskas will also put more pressure on Spike Albrecht to beat the Duke press by himself. Duke’s back court advantage could lead to a huge advantage, if they are able to force turnovers and prevent threes. Timely shooting is the only way Albrecht and Stauskas can counteract Duke’s superior driving ability.
•Duke: Rodney Hood (Soph) 10.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, at Mississippi State 2011-12.
•Michigan: Glenn Robinson III (Soph) 11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.1 spg, at Michigan.
This is an extremely good match up between two of the best small forwards in the country. Whichever player wins this match up will likely win it by a small amount. They both play fairly different type of games. Rodney Hood is a slasher and driver, while Robinson prefers working in the paint or as a three point shooter. While I expect the edge to be minuscule, I expect the slight edge to go to Robinson because of his experience in big games. Hood had to sit out Duke’s run last season, and didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in his lone season at Mississippi St. In what is such a close match up, something as small as experience could make the difference. This is a great match up, and one that I hope to see a lot when Duke and Michigan play.
•Duke: Jabari Parker (Fresh) 18.4 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.1 bpg, 1.9 spg, at Simeon High School.
•Michigan: Jon Horford (Jr) 2.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, at Michigan.
This is one of two match ups that are not close, and this one is in Duke’s favor. Horford definitely has the rebounding advantage, but has no ability to stay in front of Jabari Parker. This is another case where Parker will use his many different scoring abilities to pick apart an opposing team. I don’t imagine Jon Horford significant minutes on Parker, but Glenn Robinson can’t guard both Hood and Parker. Like many college teams, Michigan will struggle to guard all of Duke’s great drivers. Either Michigan will have to play small, or have to guard one of Duke’s forwards with a big. Neither option is great for Michigan because if they go small, they will lose part of their rebounding advantage. Just like the guard position, I expect Duke to win the match up at forwards, unless Glenn Robinson has an amazing game.
•Duke: Marshall Plumlee (Soph) 0.1 ppg, 0.6 rpg, at Duke.
•Michigan: Mitch McGary (Soph) 7.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, at Michigan.
Even with Duke’s many advantages, Michigan can win the game just based off of this match up. Duke simply does not have a player to match up with one of the best centers in the country, in Mitch McGary. McGary exploded onto the scene during Michigan’s NCAA Tournament run, proving himself as an elite player. If Mitch McGary improves the way he is truly capable of, Duke may be in some trouble. Duke is as good as any team at the first four spots as any team in the country. Teams with solid centers have the one advantage over Duke that they will struggle to overcome. If Michigan beats Duke, it will have to be on the back of Mitch McGary. Plumlee has the best chance to slow him down, but I can’t imagine him posing much of a fight.
Tyler Thorton (Senior) 3.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.3 spg, at Duke.
Andre Dawkins (Senior) 8.4 ppg, 2.1 apg, at Duke 2011-12.
Amile Jefferson (Soph) 4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, at Duke.
Derrick Walton (Fresh) 26.2 ppg, 10.1 apg, 7.7 rpg, 5.4 spg, at Chandler Park Academy High School.
Caris LeVert (Soph) 2.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, at Michigan.
Jordan Morgan (Senior) 4.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, at Michigan.
Both benches are very good, but Duke’s is just a little better. Derrick Walton will likely be a better player down the road then Thorton, but Thorton has more experience and much better defense. Duke also seems to have a slight advantage on the wing, with Andre Dawkins having an advantage over Caris LeVert. Dawkins is much more likely to have a really good game, and will at least stretch the court with his shooting ability. LeVert is talented, but has not recognized all his talent yet. Michigan may have a light advantage down low, but neither players are very good scorers. Morgan may out rebound Jefferson, but likely won’t out score him. The bench match up is close but I imagine it to be slightly in Duke’s favor.
Who Will Win?
Although Duke may struggle guarding Mitch McGary, they will win due to all their other advantages. Duke should be very successful attacking the rim, and I can’t see Michigan stopping it. Even with this being the case, I still expect a very close game between two top ten teams. Michigan will put up a fight, but I think Duke will pull away in the end.
Tomorrow, I will be previewing the match up between the two best freshman in the country, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. This match up will also happen, and is likely to be another close match up. The game will be considered one of the best games of the season. Check here tomorrow to see who I think will win the game.