Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Duke-Wake Preview

This has the potential to be a very high scoring game. Of late, Duke has decided that they don't really want to play defense - over the last four games, the Devils have posted a ghastly 106.78 DRating. How ghastly is that, you ask? If they played defense like that all season, it would rank 11th in the conference. The offense hasn't played poorly over those games (109.80, just a schoch below the average on the conference season), but failure to get defensive stops has meant all those games have been close. Duke's defense overall on the conference season still ranks 2nd in conference, but the efficiency margin has been cut by 1/3 (from 18+ to 12+), not a good sign heading toward the post-season (last year the Final 4 was made up of the the top 4 major conference teams in conference efficiency margin, and the numbers were all 18 and above). Wake's offense hasn't really been its problem this year - they post a decent 104.52 ORtg, good for 6th in the conference. The problem is that they decided early in the season not to play D - a blowout loss to Duke early in the conference season set the tone, and Wake has been atrocious at getting stops all year - they rank last in efficiency margin, D Rating, opponents eFG%, 3pt% defense, and PPWS. When you consider that they also don't force turnovers (9th at 17.6%), that adds up to a whole lot of scoring. The one positive Wake has going for it tonight is rebounding - Wake has done pretty well on both the offensive and defensive glass (better at the former), and Duke's struggles in these areas are well documented. In the first game, Wake picked up 43.3% of its own misses, and 69.6% of Duke's misses, which helped them stay in the game as long as they did. Still, that one advantage shouldn't be enough to keep this one close. The point(guard)less Deacons will have a real tough time holding on to the ball against the Duke pressure in Cameron, and there's no reason to think they'll suddenly play hard-nosed, in your face defense. This should be a pretty comfortable win, in the 15 to 20 point range.

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