The path is clear for the Sweet 16 and Duke’s path involves a 12-seed. Yale pulled off the first upset of the Tournament Thursday taking down Baylor 79-75. This Game remains in Providence, which is only a short ride from Yale’s campus. The Bulldogs had a home-like environment for the win against Baylor and that will probably be the case in this one.
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Duke had trouble disposing of UNC Wilmington in its first Game, winning 93-85. The Blue Devils had no problems scoring with three guys reaching 20 points, but left a lot to be desired on the defensive end as they gave up a number of easy buckets and 11 threes.
Yale’s win makes it the third time in Four years that an Ivy school has made it to the second round. These teams actually met earlier in the year with the Blue Devils winning 80-61 at home. Amile Jefferson, who is out for Duke, played 25 minutes and posted nine points and 12 boards. As for Yale, captain Jack Montague who will likely miss this Game, played 36 minutes and scored 11 points in the first meeting.
The first time these teams played was a much difference situation. For starters, freshman Brandon Ingram came off the bench for the Blue Devils and now he’s one of their main players. Makai Mason struggled in that first Game from the floor, but is coming off a 31-point outing in the first round.
The Bulldogs come in as one of the better rebounding teams in the nation and that could play a factor here. They went toe-to-toe and actually outrebounded Baylor last Game, a team known for rebounding. But to keep up, Yale will need more than Mason to Scoreand make shots from deep. The only other somewhat consistent shooter Yale has from deep is Nick Victor and he was 0-for-4 from the floor against Baylor.
Yale distributed the ball well in that Game and got numerous easy looks for Brandon Sherrod and Justin Sears in the paint. That could be the case in this one because Duke doesn’t have the best defense down low. Sears scored 19 points in the first meeting, going 9-of-18 from the field. He’ll be an important piece if the Bulldogs want to pull off another upset.
The main problem for Yale comes on the other end, especially since Duke dropped 80 in that first meeting. Ingram and Grayson Allen combined for 29 points in that first Game, but both are much better players than they were in that first Game. With Marshall Plumlee working the paint, Yale doesn’t exactly have anyone to deal with Ingram.
A similar player to Ingram would be Baylor’s Taurean Prince, who carved up the Bulldogs in the first round, scoring 28 points in the loss. Ingram scored 20 to go with nine boards against Wilmington and he should be in for another Game like that. Another issue is that the Bulldogs don’t have anyone to keep up with Allen, who can take almost anyone off the dribble and get to the rack.
The Bulldogs may have the crowd, but expecting this team to grab another upset without its captain Jack Montague would be surprising. They’ll definitely keep it close if Duke’s defense continues to lack, but Duke’s depth issues probably won’t be a factor just yet in the Tournament.
Our Pick – Duke -6