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Miami Fla

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With a few wins, Miami has turned into a legitimate threat, not only in this game, but going forward in each of the postseason tournaments. The Hurricanes have won three straight and are coming off a huge overtime win at Virginia. To better that perception, a win over Duke would greatly help. Despite what some may think just by looking at the team names, the ‘Canes have a decent shot to upend the Blue Devils in Coral Gables.

These teams met about a month ago and Miami put in a good fight until things got away from them a little too quickly. Up 37-27 early in the second half, Miami fell apart and suddenly it was 56-30 in favor of Duke on a 23-3 run. The Hurricanes started missing shots and turning the ball over (18 turnovers). On the other side of that, Duke got a nice bump from the bench with Matt Jones, Frank Jackson and Marques Bolden combining for 31 points.

But the big question for Miami in this game is how it will perform with Ja’Quan Newton back in the lineup after being suspended for the last three, all wins. Newton, the starting point guard that averages more than 32 minutes, 15 points and leads the team with 3.6 assists per game, missed the last three contests and yet the Hurricanes seemed to improve without him. In his first game back, there’s a slight question of what exactly his role will be. In his absence, Anthony Lawrence took up a bigger role as did freshman Dejan Vasiljevic off the bench. In addition, they focused on giving the ball to Kamari Murphy a bit more down low with Bruce Brown and Davon Reed on the outside.

Using Murphy more on the offensive end may be the way to go for Miami, as Duke lacks in the size department between Amile Jefferson and whomever else they bring in. Murphy had 15 boards in that first game, but only four points. If Newton can come back into the lineup with the aforementioned Lawrence and Vasiljevic still proving valuable off the bench, the Hurricanes could give a real fight in the ACC tournament.

But on the other end, Duke has found a rhythm on the offensive end and that starts with Jayson Tatum, who has come up huge in recent road wins at Virginia (28 points) and Notre Dame (19 points). When Tatum is hitting shots from the outside, this Duke offense is incredibly hard to stop. Miami will probably use Reed or Lawrence on Tatum for the majority of the game, unless they think Murphy can guard him on the perimeter. Newton and Brown did a good job keeping Grayson Allen (7 pts) and Luke Kennard (11 pts) in check last game, but doing so again would be difficult. If Tatum gets going, he may draw extra help from defenders, which would in turn give more room for Kennard and Allen to work.

Miami has the huge home win against UNC from a few weeks ago, but has also lost to Notre Dame and Florida State. This game should end much closer than the first one between these teams and if the Hurricanes can play the type of lock-down defense displayed at Virginia on Monday, there’s a decent chance for an upset, if not cover.

Our Pick - Duke by 3

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