Friday, February 15, 2008

6 To Go

At the risk of jinxing what has been, to this point, an exceptional conference season for Duke, it's time to talk about what is suddenly the very real possibility that Duke turns the Sweet 16 again in ACC play. That's right, 16-0. It certainly won't be easy - of the six remaining games for Duke, four are on the road, and another is against UNC. Here are the six hurdles left to jump, in order of degree of difficulty:

1) UNC, 3/8, Durham - duh.

2) NC State, 3/1, Raleigh - yes, I've been hard on NC State this year. Yes, they've laid gi-normous eggs in their games against top opponents (first half UNC, second half Duke, Clemson). Yes, they looked awful on defense against BC (as they have all year). But talent is still talent, and the Wolfies will be looking for any kind of silver lining on their season by this point. It also says a lot about what I think of Duke's prospects for going 16-0 that this is the second most difficult game left.

3) Wake Forest, 2/17, Winston-Salem - Wake has been on a bit of a roll because their 3-point shots have started falling - nearly 50% over the last three games. That's obviously unsustainable, but their average in conference play is now at 34.5% (tells you how bad their outside shooting had been before), which is about right for this team. A lot of people see this weekend's game as a trap game for Duke. I'll have more detail on Sunday, but there's one reason why I'm less worried than others. This is Ish Smith's line from last season's meeting: 9 points (4-11 shooting), 0 assists, 8 turnovers. He may do better than that this time around (hard not to) but he's still going to struggle mightily against Duke's perimeter D.

4) Georgia Tech, 2/27, Durham - This game would have been a lot tougher at Georgia Tech. On the road, they're a thoroughly mediocre team. And rookie point guards (Mo Miller, Matt Causey) do not have a history of performing well in Cameron.

5) Miami, 2/20, Miami - Duke won rather comfortably in Cameron, and Miami is not all that imposing. Contain McClinton, and it will be very hard for the rest of the team to score enough points to keep up. Duke did that on Feb. 2, and it took four guys having exceptional shooting days for the Canes to even keep it close. I doubt that Hicks, Asbury, Graham, and Dews will combine to shoot 19-29 in the rematch.

6) Virginia, 3/5, Charlottesville - Virginia has an interesting habit of mailing in games against "unimportant" opponents, and getting super-jacked for when the big boys come to town (witness Tuesday's performance against UNC). So despite the fact that UVA is very, very bad this year, it's still a potential trap game. That's especially true given that it's just 3 days before the UNC game. Nonetheless, UVA is still a bad team. There's even less likelihood that someone outside of Singletary can carry the team than there is that someone outside of McClinton could pick up the slack for Miami.


Anonymous said...

I love the blog and I love the thought but this is a terrible idea. The jinx is officially on.
One play at a time. Wake, Wake, Wake that's all we need to think.

Unknown said...

Why did you write this, Paul?!?! Ugh!!!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Paul... :(

Anonymous said...

What did we learn? We'll all assume the apology and move on. Next Play!