Duke will face off against MD tonight in the ACC Tournament in what should be a good match-up. The teams split in the regular season with each team winning at home. Clearly Duke will be favored in this one but there are some key factors that are in MD’s favor. Md does have depth and especially in the front court where they can bring in several big bodies to match-up against Mason Plumlee. Hopefully the neutralizer to this perceived advantage will be Ryan Kelly. A smart defender, Kelly may be the key to keeping the Terps from having a field day in the paint, and offensively Kelly can pull one of MD’s bigs out of the paint leaving room for Mason Plumlee to operate without fear of a double team. Kelly also brings a strong rebounding presence and he’s another ball handler in case MD decides to trap or press.
Another product of Maryland’s depth is that they should not wear down in this game, they play 10 deep and used their bench with aplomb. If Duke can grab a lead and hold it early MD will be forced to continue with its starters and at very least shorten its bench in order to keep up with the Devils.Â Duke does not want to get into a dog fight with MD and if Duke can shoot the ball well this game should be no contest.
Duke will need to find an answer for the improved play of Dez Wells who scored 21 points against Wake yesterday. Wells was 7 of 10 and 2 of 2 from 3 point range. Wells could be a bit of a match-up problem for Duke:Â a strong 6’5 guard/forward, he can be a slasher who could overpower the Duke guards or be too fast for a larger body should Duke choose to go that route.
Mason will have to contend with Alex Len in the paint, this being the rubber match of their meetings this year. Mason handled Len in Cameron but Len had the edge over Plumlee in College Park. Maryland also brings in Shaq Cleare and Charles Mitchell off the bench, both huge players that Duke really has no one to contend with. It may suit Dukes personnel to play fast and run against the Terps.
MD will need a bigger contribution from sophomore guard Nick Faust. Faust is averaging 9 points a game in 25 minutes of action but if Dukes guards continue to score at their current clip Maryland will be at a severe disadvantage in the backcourt. Faust and Pe’Shon Howard will need to put up complimentary points to what Dez Wells brings to the table.
The only player that I worry about having a break-out game is Seth Allen, he’s a strong kid as a freshman and is capable of getting to and finishing at the rim. He showed flashes against Duke in College Park and if Duke does not defend the drive and stop ball. Allen is capable of putting up numbers.
1. Duke will need to rebound better in this game.
2. Get a big game from Ryan Kelly.
3. Get Mason off, don’t let MD utilize the double team, and if they do Mason need to find shooters. Make them pay.
4. Defend, choke off the middle, do not allow dribble penetration.
I expect Duke to win this game, pulling away mid second half. 13-17 points is my prediction for the margin of victory. 80-63