ACC Basketball Pick
This game doesn't have as much significance as one would think being as it's the top two teams in the ACC. Plus, the last time they played, Miami (FL) won by 27 points at home over Duke. Still, even if the Hurricanes lose this game, their final two games of the regular season will be at home (where they haven't lost) against bottom half teams. With a three-game lead on the Blue Devils, a loss on the road against a top team doesn't really hurt them all that much.
Nevertheless, does anyone really think Miami (FL) is going to give this game away? This is a Top 5, in-conference matchup and the Hurricanes want to show everyone they are for real. Can they back up their last win over Duke, or was that just a fluke?
The Blue Devils will only have one full day of preparation for this game which should influence the line a little bit. They are coming off a loss at Virginia on Thursday night, a game in which they never had a lead. It wasn't that bad of a loss for Duke considering Virginia was actually favorites in the game. Miami (FL) doesn't have to play the Cavaliers on the road which is a major break for them.
The last time out on the road for the Hurricanes, it wasn't pretty. They lost big to one of the worst teams in the ACC, Wake Forest. They are going to have to put together a much better outing if they want to win at Cameron Indoor Stadium against a team that wants revenge and is coming off a recent loss.
The last time these teams faced off, no one had an overly good game for the Blue Devils. Quinn Cook and Seth Curry were the main problems as they shot a combined 1-of-22 from the field for five points. When two of your best scorers shoot that poorly from the field, it's not easy to win on the road. Most of their troubles came because Miami (FL) has long and lanky guards. The bigger Rasheed Sulaimon didn't have as bad of game with a team-high 16 points and he might be a bigger factor in the rematch. Mason Plumlee did his usual double-double work in the last game, but he still only shot 5-of-15 from the field. It will be interesting to see if he repeats those numbers because the Hurricanes have the bigs to deal with him down low. As their game in Coral Gables was one of their worst offensive outputs of the season, Duke will likely post better numbers on Saturday.
The Hurricanes know it's going to be tough and much harder than the previous matchup. They basically had their way with the Blue Devils in that game, as their starters shot 63 percent from the field and 53 percent from behind the arc. It's hard to see those numbers happening again which automatically will make this game closer and then you'll have to believe Duke won't shoot 30 percent from the field again, so that leaves the home team as favorites.
Durand Scott will have to have a repeat performance of his game-high 25 points as his size can once again be a big factor. He hasn't been playing all that well lately, not being able to surpass double-digit points in three of the last four games. His counterpart, Shane Larkin, has been a little better and a lot of that has to do with his ability to shoot from long-range. He leads this team and can stretch the defense for Scott. The Hurricanes trio of big men will need to put in another terrific performance because Plumlee isn't going down without a fight. Kenny Kadji, Julian Gamble and Reggie Johnson all excel in different areas, but they all have the size to cause problems for Plumlee on both ends of the court. This will be the matchup to watch, to see what Plumlee will be able to do.
The last thing the Blue Devils want to do is lose two games in the matter of three days. This will be a very difficult task for the Hurricanes, but one that can be accomplished. Winning this game would almost insure that Miami (FL) got a 1-seed come tourney time.
Predicted Score - Duke 70 Miami 61