ACC Game of the Week: Duke at Florida State
No. 5/4 Duke (23-4, 10-2) at No. 15/16 Florida State (19-7, 10-2), 7:00 PM, ESPN/ESPN3
This game marks the first time the first matchup of top 15 teams in Florida State’s Donald L. Tucker Civic Center since February 27, 1993 (No. 6 FSU lost to No. 3 North Carolina). Tonight’s game won’t decide the ACC title (Florida State still has trips to Miami and Virginia remaining while Duke still has North Carolina), but it will make it a much more uphill climb for the loser.
Keys to the game: Containing Ian Miller. Florida State’s talented sophomore guard has had an up-and-down year, but he has hit double figures in four straight games now. He got to the basket seemingly at will against NC State on Saturday, and Duke has had trouble slowing down or stopping those kinds of players all year. Miller has pulled some disappearing acts in ACC play as well, and he had just seven points in 15 minutes at Duke the first time around, but if he’s got his confidence going and can get to the basket, Duke could be in trouble.
Slowing Duke’s perimeter scoring. Only Boston College’s dynamic trio of Jordan Daniels, Lonnie Jackson and Matt Humphrey have had more points against FSU this year than Duke’s primary backcourt scorers (Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins). BC beat FSU on the strength of their performance, and Duke nearly did too. But Duke’s three combined to shoot just 38% from the floor and 9-of-22 from inside the arc. Most opposing big men have been neutralized by FSU, so Duke’s perimeter scorers will have to be effective and efficient. FSU likely can’t withstand an offensive barrage from those three, either.
Random stat: There’s been an assumption that Duke has somehow played better defensively on the road than they have at home in league play. That’s not necessarily true: Duke only allows three more points (65.8 at home, 68.8 on the road) but exactly the same field goal percentage at home and on the road (43.1%) in league play. The main difference? Duke’s opponents have attempted 20.8 free throws and made just 63.2% in the Blue Devils’ road ACC games while at Cameron, opponents attempt 22.5 free throws and make 68.9 percent.
Prediction: Duke 77, Florida State 71
Last week: 7-4
Season: 115-40 (51-21 ACC)