Duke Basketball Season Prediction: December

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This is the second part of a six part series in which Thomas Eames (bluedevilsdigest.com @bluedevildigest), Jason Morrow (bluedevilsdigest.com @JasonMorrowSM), Brian Horace (dukeblogger.com), and Randy Dunson (dukeblogger.com) go through and predict who will win each Duke basketball game. We will all individually predict each game and show you where we think Duke will be at the end of the year.

 

December 3: Michigan at Duke (ACC-Big 10 Challenge)
Duke: 4. Michigan: 0.

Thomas Eames
Michigan: This is the toughest game I have predicted so far, as I believe Michigan is an extremely talented and underrated team. They also have the ability to attack Duke’s biggest weakness, their post game, with Mitch McGary. Wings Glenn Robinson, Zak Irvin, and Nik Stauskas match up with Duke athletically and Derrick Walton, Spike Albrecht and Caris Levert will be match up with Duke’s guards well. I think this will be the closest game all year and Duke may have the slight advantage due to their home court advantage. I went back and forth with this pick and finally chose Duke, due to their home court advantage. Michigan is a really solid team, and I really hope Duke avoids them in March.

Jason Morrow
Duke: Well the schedule sure lightens up when we get to December right? Think again. John Beilein brings his Michigan squad into Cameron on the 3rd of the month; right after the Preseason NIT is over. Although Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. departed for the NBA, the Wolverines have their fair share of talent coming back from a season in which they ended just twenty minutes away from a national championship. Michigan led in that game by as many as 12, and the main reason for that was their three-point shooting, which they return a majority of for the ’13-’14 campaign. I really do hope Duke is ready for this game because if not the consecutive non-conference win streak will be in jeopardy. If this game is any indication of what last year’s Big Ten-ACC challenge with Ohio State was like, it will come down to the wire. All in all, the senior leadership of the Blue Devils will help them win this game. Duke 84-79.

Brian Horace
Duke: Michigan last year I admit surprised me and peaked at the right time, do I fear them against Duke this year? Nope. With Trey Burke not leading this team I honestly don’t see them as a major threat. Yes they will have the edge at the Power Forward spot against Duke with Mitch McGary but as much as everyone wants to say the kid is a world beater he only averaged 7.5 ppg. Yes he has an excellent NCAA tournament but I’m still not buying into all of the hype. He may have a great game against Duke without a true PF to play against him but I say Michigan loses by 10.

Randy Dunson
Duke: Duke gets home court advantage in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this year against a formidable Michigan team, picked by most to finish no lower than 2nd in the Big 10. Overall, Duke dominates the series with the Wolverines 21-8. However, coming off an appearance in the NCAA championship game, the Wolverines have a deep, athletic, and experienced roster despite losing Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. to NBA draft. They return one of the best shooters in the country in 6-6 wing Nik Stauskas (44 percent from 3-point range), one of the most athletic hybrid forwards in Glenn Robinson III (must adapt to playing at the 3 spot though) and one of the best rebounders in Mitch McGary. They will be a very tough team for Duke to match up with exception of the critical point guard and wing positions, where Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon should shine. In addition, with Andre Dawkins’ return along with three additional stellar recruits at the 2 and 3 spots (easily switchable), Duke’s perimeter talent and depth will bring a tough-fought victory home. [NB: These remarks will serve as a basis for Duke’s prowess in all forthcoming predictions. Duke (75-70).

 

December 16: Gardner-Webb at Duke
Duke: 4. Gardner-Webb: 0.

Thomas Eames
Duke: Plainly put, Gardner-Webb is just not on the same level talent-wise. They will try and put up a fight but Duke does not lose to inferior opponents, especially on their home court. Jabari Parker and all of Duke’s scorers should have a field day against Gardner-Webb’s severely under matched team.

Jason Morrow
Duke: After 13 days away from game action due to finals week, the Blue Devils step back on the floor against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb only has two seniors on the roster of a team that finished near the bottom of points per game in the NCAA last season, and only had two players average double digits. Duke may have to shake off some rust, but they won’t have any trouble at all in this one, and they may hit their peak in terms of points in a single game in this one. Duke 106-60.

Brian Horace
Duke: It’s going to be very hard for Gardner-Webb to compete against Duke any night, but losing 3 of their top 4 scorers is a nightmare to have to replace against a ranked opponent. I don’t give them much of a chance to stay in this game very long before they are completely overwhelmed. Duke wins big.

Randy Dunson
Duke: New head coach Tim Craft welcomes a veteran squad. The Runnin’ Bulldog’s go deep and are very big. They finished last year with a 21-13 record overall and went 11-5 in the Big South. Duke has only played them once in 2009 and came away with a 113-68 victory. With a rebuilding program, Gardner-Webb will be no match for Duke’s overwhelming talent and depth. Duke (105-65).

 

December 19: UCLA vs Duke (at Madison Square Garden
Duke: 4. UCLA: 0.

Thomas Eames
Duke: While UCLA is ranked in preseason polls by ESPN and CBS, I do not see them as a huge threat to Duke. They are losing leading score, Shabazz Muhammad, and turn the team over to a new coach, Steve Alford. Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are talented players, but UCLA may struggle to score points without the dynamic Shabazz Muhammad. UCLA will not be able to keep pace with Duke, and Duke will pull away with a decisive win at MSG.

Jason Morrow
Duke: Duke will once again be in their “home away from home”, aka Madison Square Garden, taking on UCLA in the CARQUEST Auto Parts classic. UCLA will be under new head coach Steve Alford this year, and hope to improve upon an NCAA Tourney appearance. With Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams returning for the Bruins, they are currently picked to be third by most experts, finishing behind Colorado and Arizona. I think the Blue Devils stay undefeated and beat UCLA, 79-71.

Brian Horace
Duke: UCLA is an unknown but simply going by what they have on the roster they should be able to at least hang with the Devils for a bit. Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson are a capable back-court and they have an experienced though limited front court with the Wear twins, what will be huge for Steve Alford is the development of Tony Parker. Word around town is that he is in much better shape and spent the off-season working very hard. Despite his commitment press conference still going on he should be able to contribute to the cause but Duke still wins this game.

Randy Dunson
Duke: Duke holds a 9-6 edge over the Bruins in their series dating back to 1953. This game is being played at Madison Square Garden & is a part of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Classic. UCLA welcomes new coach Steve Alford with a team that is very talented. Most likely, 6-9 sophomore guard/forward Kyle Anderson will lead the team at point rather than at the small forward spot. If so, he will most likely be teamed with
Norman Powell at the wing, making a formidable backcourt tandem. With the Wear twins playing in tandem with Tony Parker in the frontcourt, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Even though Duke will be relatively weak upfront, their bevy of shooting guards & small forwards bombing away will bring the sweet taste of victory to them at their home away from home. Duke (78-72).

 

December 28: Eastern Michigan at Duke
Duke: 4. Eastern Michigan: 0.

Thomas Eames
Duke: While Eastern Michigan has some talent, they do not have enough to overtake Duke. Duke may come out to a slow start after a short Christmas break, but will find a way to pull away during the game. The game may appear close at times, but I do not fear a loss in this game for Duke.

Jason Morrow
Duke: After the Michigan and UCLA games, the Blue Devils come home for two games against Eastern Michigan and Elon. The Eagles have five seniors on their roster, but they will be overmatched against a Duke team looking to work out the kinks getting ready for the ACC season. I expect the Blue Devils to win easily, 93-59.

Brian Horace
Duke: On paper Eastern Michigan looks like a team that Duke should run over but looking underneath the surface there are some not so obvious factors. There are a few players for EMU that have matriculated there from bigger programs. Da’Shonte Riley was at Syracuse, Mike Talley was at Duquesne, Jordan Price from DePaul, Glenn Bryant from Arkansas and Daylen Harrison from Wyoming. This group of players may be at a smaller school now but they have benefited from big time coaches. I think Duke will win but some fans will be surprised at the poise some of these players have.

Randy Dunson
Duke: Duke should remember their one and only game with the Eastern Michigan, a humiliating 70-65 loss in the First Round of the NCAA Championship in 1996. Little else is known about this year’s Eagles team with the exception of they are returning only 3 seniors. Given mid-major teams to give tougher teams fits, they should not be overlooked. Duke (80-60).

 

December 31: Elon vs Duke (at Greensboro)
Duke: 4. Elon: 0.

Thomas Eames
Duke: While Elon is not a team to overlook, this game should be a win for Duke. Elon has the potential to be a tournament team this season, but they will not have the athleticism to keep up with Duke. Look for this game to be close for a while, but for Duke to go on a run and pull away with a convincing win before the start of ACC play.

Jason Morrow
Duke: In the last test before the Blue Devils head to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, they will face the Elon Phoenix on New Years’ Eve. I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, and Duke will roll easily, 87-55.

Brian Horace
Duke: Duke ends the month in Greensboro against Elon, a team they played last year and beat by 22. Elon isn’t much of a match for Duke but they are coming of of a 21 win season and could have been an NCAA team with a tougher schedule under their belt. Duke will cruise in this one. 7 minutes in Duke will go on a run and end this one early.

Randy Dunson
Duke: Now Coach Matt Matheny returns all eight players who averaged at least ten minutes per game last season and when the starters need a break, there will be plenty of options. Tanner Samson and Junior Kevin Blake will provide more depth on the perimeter for the Phoenix. The frontcourt has plenty of depth as well. Elon’s depth and experience will put them right in the mix for a Southern Conference title. That said, and no one team should ever be overlooked, the Blue Devils will undoubtedly increase their series record with Elon from 14-5 to 15-5. Duke (95-60).

Earlier November predictions  here!