College Basketball Pick
A year after winning it all, Duke is struggling to find any kind of consistency. That seems to be an issue this year for the teams (Kentucky) that have built their squads around top freshmen. The Blue Devils have looked out of sorts in recent action, losing three straight Games in ACC play, two of them at home. To make matters worse, none of those losses were against a ranked team.
While Duke is on the road for this Game, they’ll at least face a team struggling even more in NC State. The ACC season has not gone to plan for the Wolfpack as they sit at the bottom of the standings with five losses. However, they finally put it all together against Pittsburgh on Tuesday for their first ACC win.
With how Duke has looked, it wouldn’t be surprising if NC State knocked them off for a Fourth straight loss. The Wolfpack have the tools needed to upset the Blue Devils, but it’s a matter of putting that together in back-to-back Games. Without Jefferson in the middle, Duke’s defense has been mediocre at best. Their guards have failed to keep guys out of the paint and Marshall Plumlee is the only real rim protector left on a roster that only goes seven deep without Jefferson.
That’s going to be a problem going against Cat Barber, often the quickest player on the cOurt. Barber leads the Wolfpack with 21 points per Game and he shouldn’t have any problems getting to the hole against this defense. Barber had 31 points, 7 boards and 8 assists in Tuesday’s Game. Duke has had an issue against players that can drive it in recent Games and playing a zone hasn’t done much to help.
But in addition to that, the Wolfpack have the bodies down low to give Duke more issues. Without Jefferson, the duo of Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya is going to be a major problem for the Blue Devils. It’s likely they play a zone most of the Game because of that reason alone, but Plumlee won’t be able to handle those bodies by himself and it’s unlikely freshman Brandon Ingram will help much with his small frame.
Of course, with all that said, NC State is still a team with a 1-5 Conference record. The Wolfpack are having more problems than Duke, so despite some of these advantages, that may not be enough if they can’t figure things out.
The Blue Devils shouldn’t have a problem scoring on the perimeter, whether it’s Grayson Allen, LUke Kennard or Matt Jones. As long as they don’t get too dependent on the long ball. They shot 10-of-37 from deep in their recent loss to Syracuse as Jones and Kennard were a combined 2-for-19. NC State’s defense isn’t that great, so this Game could be a different story.
But just like how NC State is a matchup problem on their end, it’s a wonder how the Wolfpack will do because defending Ingram with Anya or Abu will probably be an issue. Ingram is tall, skinny and can shoot from deep. NC State’s bigs aren’t used to defending on the perimeter, so they’ll likely take a different defensive route.
This would be a nice win for the Wolfpack to get back on track, but Duke isn’t going to lie down for them coming off three straight losses of their own.
Duke 85 NC State 76