Key to Duke basketball winning: Guard the middle ball screen
The Duke defense has stepped up mightily over the past two weekends, with some key defensive stretches in each game that resulted in wins. They’ve held their four tournament opponents to an average of 69.8 points per game.
That’s included a mix of both man-to-man and zone defense, which has been a decision from both Coach K and the players. They have gone back and forth depending on what was working.
The one kryptonite, however, has been the middle ball screen.
That issue has plagued the Blue Devils ever since the second half of the UNC game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. UNC exploded in that half, thanks to their use of the middle ball screen, and Duke simply had no answer.
Their answer to that issue in the tournament has been going zone. But against a UNC team that employs good shooters — Manek, RJ Davis, and Caleb Love — that solution might not be the best option.
If Duke can figure out how to guard that middle ball screen effectively, it can make it much more difficult for UNC to get into its offense, forcing Love and Davis to create in one-on-one, which is what Duke will be looking to force.