ACC Basketball Pick
The rematch. It seemed so long ago when NC State beat the Blue Devils on Jan. 12. After that win, the Wolfpack were in first place and undefeated in the ACC. since that Game, they have lost Four of their last six Games and are 5-4 in Conference play, Four full Games behind Miami (FL) and two behind Duke.
After Ryan Kelly’s injury, Duke was reeling with two losses in three Games including a 27-point loss to the Hurricanes. since that loss, the Blue Devils have suddenly looked like themselves with two big wins over Maryland and Florida State. Now they get to play the team that gave them their first loss of the season, this time at home.
NC State was the preseason favorite to win the conference, but that doesn’t look likely at this point. They only have one road win this season and that was at last placed Boston College. The Wolfpack couldn’t beat Maryland, Wake Forest or Virginia on the road. Last Saturday, they had a very good chance to beat Miami (FL), but fell apart toward the end of the Game and eventually lost on a last second offensive rebound tip-in. The Hurricanes shot 3-for-21 from long distance and NC State still couldn’t find a way to win.
The loss of junior point guard Lorenzo Brown obviously hurts the Wolfpack as he’s averaging 12.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per Game. Not to mention he leads the team in minutes per Game. In their win over the Blue Devils, Brown had 12 points and 13 assists. It’s likely him and Ryan Kelly will miss this Thursday’s Game. Tyler Lewis stepped up big in Brown’s place against the Hurricanes playing 36 minutes, scoring 16 points along with five assists. This is a freshman that was averaging less than 10 minutes per Game in ACC play.
In that previous matchup, Duke had tons of trouble containing the bigs of NC State. Mason Plumlee wasn’t enough down low. Richard Howell went for 16 points and 18 rebounds while C.J. Leslie had a Game-high 25 points. They will need to match those numbers and then some because it won’t be easy winning in Cameron Indoor Stadium, especially as this is a revenge Game. The Wolfpack have what it takes, but to grab a win in this situation will be their biggest task of the season.
Duke is finally coming around and coming to terms with Kelly’s injury. His status for a return is still unknown which isn’t good, but they are playing better without him as of late. The thing about the last time they played NC State, they didn’t exactly have a bad offensive Game. Plumlee, Seth Curry and Quinn Cook all had at least 15 points to their names. They did not struggle. The x-factor may come down to Rasheed Sulaimon who went 0-for-10 in that Game. since that output, he has averaged more than 15 points over his last five Games.
The Blue Devils are coming off a dismantling at Florida State in which they were only 6-point favorites. They were up by 20 points by halftime and Plumlee was only needed for 25 minutes. Kelly or not, Duke is ready for this rematch with the Wolfpack. It’ll be up to NC State to make a Game of this as they try to back up their previous win.
Predicted Score- Duke 85 NC St 69
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