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College Basketball Pick
Everyone figured things would get tough for Duke after losing Ryan Kelly to a foot injury, but not this tough. After winning their first 15 games of the season, they have now lost two of their last three, both on the road.
Duke lost a couple weeks ago at NC State, but that wasn't considered too bad of a loss. On Wednesday night, they were destroyed at Miami (FL) by 27 points, their worst defeat since 1984 and the third worst for a No. 1 team. Obviously, Kelly means a lot to this team, but even he probably wouldn't have turned this result around.
The Blue Devils get to return home for a game that everyone thought was a gimme early in the season. Now, who knows what's going to happen, although Mike Krzyzewski is probably lighting a fire under his team as you read this. While Duke may be struggling, the Terrapins actually haven't been that bad this year.
They started the season almost dismantling No. 3 Kentucky, and then won their next 13 games. The ACC hasn't been as kind as they are currently 3-3 and tied for 5th place. They lost at home to Florida State, then a couple road games at Miami (FL) and North Carolina. A win over NC State (albeit at home) shows they have what it takes to win over quality teams.
Duke had a dreadful day against the Hurricanes and there's almost no possible way they will repeat that. They shot less than 30% from the floor and 4-for-23 from behind the arc. This is a team that shoots 46% on the season as a team. The usually reliable guards of Quinn Cook and Seth Curry finished a combined 1-for-22 from the field. That is not pretty. Curry averages 15.9 points on the season and didn't even score. Mason Plumlee did what he could with 15 points and 11 boards, but even then he was largely ineffective. These shooting woes have to go if they want to beat the Terrapins who are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation.
Maryland doesn't allow a lot of points either and will likely give the Blue Devils trouble at times on the offensive end. However, will Maryland be able to score 90 on Duke like the Hurricanes did? It's unlikely, but again it was unlikely for Miami (FL) who average under 69 points per game. The Terrapins average 71.8 PPG. They only have two players averaging double-digits which shows they have a pretty diverse attack. Alex Len is a problem for anyone on the defensive end as he's 7'1". Len leads the Terrapins in scoring and rebounding with 13.5 PPG and 8.2 REB. Still, no one on the team averages more than 27 minutes per game while 10 players average at least 12 minutes per game. Duke is a little different with only seven players getting significant minutes in every game.
The Terrapins move the ball well on the offensive end and that's why they average 16.1 team assists per game. This will be a big game for Dez Wells who's been really inconsistent lately. He's the second leading scorer on the team with 11.8 PPG, but hasn't really been able to duplicate his early season success to ACC play. He managed 18-plus points in games against the Hurricanes and Tar Heels, but five or less in the three games surrounding those two. In their only true road win of the season at Northwestern he dominated going for 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
Duke has been struggling, but if they manage to lose at home against this Maryland team, something is definitely wrong. Maryland's chances to pull the upset are slim, but it's possible. They will have to control the glass, stop Plumlee from dominating down low and make sure the guards don't beat them with their shooting. That's a lot to ask for, but something the Hurricanes were able to do.
Predicted Score - Duke 82 Maryland 54
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