Keys to the Duke Matchup

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MVPe should start. Image from searchingforbillyedelin.com.

Since Maryland has already played Duke this year, we’re not going to do another full-blast preview (like here), but instead we’ll talk about a few keys to the game.

You know how it’s gone with Maryland-Duke in the past few years. The Terps travel to Durham and get their asses handed to them by 20 or 30, and then in College Park play them tight, often eking out the win.

That’s why this year is so strange. At Duke, Maryland took a lead into the second half and lost by seven to a top-ranked Blue Devils team. Does that mean Maryland is going to blow the Blue Devils out at home? If you go by patterns, you could say that. If you go by common sense, you couldn’t say that.

In fact, most everything about this game is set up in a way that hurts Maryland’s chances. Duke wants to show the country that yes, they are still a top five team without Kyrie Irving. The Blue Devils are pissed off after being blown out by St. John’s in their last game, and they want to take it out on the Terps. So what can the Terps do to get that huge win that they so desperately need?

  • Limit the outside shot. The Blue Devils have four players shooting over 40% from three this year, and that’s not including Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, who can make those shots consistently (they just haven’t this year). Make Duke try to hurt you inside, because with Dino Gregory and Jordan Williams defending, the Blue Devils don’t have the skill to score there consistently.
  • Get the ball out of Nolan Smith’s hands. It was Kyle Singler who made the key shots and piled up the stat sheet in the game earlier this year, but it was Smith who was the facilitator for the offense on every play. Sic Sean Mosley on him and make him uncomfortable.
  • When Cliff Tucker plays, have him guard Kyle Singler. This is the best matchup for the Terps, as Tucker’s athleticism could best out Singler’s ugly mug. The senior from El Paso is an underrated defensive forward, and is one of the fastest players in the ACC.
  • Start Pe’Shon Howard over Terrell Stoglin. Stoglin is a better scorer, I know, but Howard is a better true point guard. Adrian Bowie has played much better when he’s been able to move to the wing and not worry as much about ball handling, so keep him in that role and have MVPe’ man the point.
  • Eventually, all you can do is hope that they get unlucky. Duke is better at creating offensive opportunities than almost anyone in the country, and if enough of them bank out, the Terps will have a real chance tomorrow night.

KenPom predicts a 75-74 Duke win, giving the Blue Devils a 51% chance of coming out with the victory. I don’t think it’ll be that high scoring. As much as it pains me to say so, I predict Duke 71, Maryland 68.

Finally, I leave you with this:

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