Tag Archive | Ryan Kelly

Dec. 29-30 ACC Previews

Santa Clara (11-2) at No. 1 Duke (11-0), 12:00 PM, ESPN2

In the 1960s, Santa Clara had a short-lived live Bronco mascot.

What to watch: Santa Clara’s Mark Trasolini versus Ryan Kelly. He’s not the Broncos’ leading scorer, but the 6-9 senior forward is the most efficient scorer, averaging 16.3 points on 57% shooting. In Santa Clara’s two losses, he has shot just 3-of-10 from the floor. In the last three games, he has averaged 23.7 points on over 68% shooting, adding 4-of-6 three-pointers, 7.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. Duke’s Ryan Kelly has held some good opposing big men (and versatile big men at that) to low point totals this year, and Duke’s going to need his defense yet again against a sneaky-good Santa Clara squad.

Random Santa Clara facts: In the mid-1960s, Santa Clara had a live bronco (briefly) that was so strong, he could pull a section of folded bleachers unassisted. The handler discovered this after he tied him to the bleachers while he went to get a hot dog, only to come back when he heard the crowd roaring as the bronco was running across the field). At least they were empty?

Prediction: Duke, 95-73. Both of Santa Clara’s losses have come in overtime, but their best win was over St. Louis early this year. Still, the Broncos have had a relatively easy time of it since and have dominated some decent teams. But this is at Duke, and the Blue Devils are rolling.

Western Michigan (8-4) at No. 23/25 NC State (9-2), 12:00 PM, ESPNU

Wake up, buddy.

What to watch: The foul line. If there’s been an area to quibble with NC State offensively this year, it’s the free-throw shooting. The Wolfpack is one of the most efficient teams in the league offensively, and would probably hold the league’s top mark in that category if it could shoot free throws. NC State has hit the 70% mark from the line just three times this season and is shooting 64% on the year, good for 282nd nationally according to Ken Pomeroy. But their free-throw rate is top-50 nationally, and the offense is predicated on being aggressive and getting to the line. If State stops leaving points at the foul line, its offense – which is already scary good – will become even more so.

Random Western Michigan facts: WMU used to be known as the Hilltoppers, but that led to some understandable confusion with fellow Hilltopper schools. (Also, WMU expanded beyond the hills and their tops.) They adopted the Bronco in the late 1980s, and he looks….well….sleepy.

And if you needed to know anything about parking on WMU’s campus (and ridiculously short shorts), check out this 1982 video! (Side note: I think Buster Bronco finds this video HILARIOUS. No reason.)

Prediction: NC State, 87-63. Even if the Wolfpack shows up sluggish after the holiday break, Western Michigan isn’t the type of team that can take advantage of its weaknesses.

Delaware State (5-7) at Maryland (10-1), 12:30 PM, ESPN3

Too-Fly, indeed.

What to watch: Maryland’s turnovers. The Terrapins don’t force a lot of turnovers, and they don’t have to because their defense is good enough. But they can’t afford to keep turning it over, either. Maryland’s defense has the lowest loss of ball percentage in the league (12.7%), but their 0.746 PPP allowed is one of the best marks. Still, Maryland’s loss of ball on offense (18.82%) is only better than Wake Forest and Florida State so far this year. Maryland has shown a tendency to get sloppy at times this year. If they want to be an upper-echelon ACC team (and they’re more than capable of being just that), they won’t be able to get away with turning it over on nearly a fifth of their offensive possessions.

Random Delaware State facts: Delaware State has tweaked its mascot in recent years, and the current hornet iteration is known as “Too-Fly”. And he had a high standard of flyness to live up to:

Prediction: Maryland, 87-65. The Hornets did knock off in-state rival Delaware recently (side note: things have gone downhill from the Blue Hens since beating UVa). But half of their wins are against non-Division I opponents.

Florida State (7-4) vs. Tulsa (7-5), 2:00 PM, FSN (Sunrise, FL)

Tulsa’s old mascot, the Golden Hurricane, next to the new one: Captain Cane, a superhero that can “summon weather”. Sheesh.

What to watch: Has Michael Snaer flipped the switch? The senior guard sat out FSU’s win against Louisiana-Monroe due to “disciplinary reasons”, and whatever his head coach Leonard Hamilton did or said seems to have worked. He’s always been an elite defender, and it’s been obvious that he has struggled to take on his newfound role as an assertive scorer. But he has to do that for Florida State to win, and he did against Charlotte last week. He had 30 points on 8-of-19 shooting, his best shooting percentage since late November. In his last two games he has played in – Charlotte and Maine – he has taken 37 shots, a third of his season total. In FSU’s losses, he has shot nearly five fewer times on average than in FSU’s wins. And he’s going to have to keep it up as his young teammates come along.

Random Tulsa facts: The Golden Hurricane mascot used to be an actual hurricane. Now, it’s “Captain Cane”, who carries a a “hurricane-summoning sword” and wears “energy-sourcing thunder boots”. Well, okay then. The change was made when current UNC AD Bubba Cunningham was the AD at Tulsa.

Prediction: Florida State, 76-68. Without the loss to Mercer, maybe FSU wouldn’t seem like its struggling so much. The Seminoles would have then only lost to Minnesota and Florida since their season-opening loss to South Alabama. Sadly, Mercer ddi happen, and so did some struggles against Maine and Louisiana Monroe. Still, Tulsa hasn’t beaten anyone as good as FSU this year.

Holy Cross (7-5) at Boston College (6-5), 2:00 PM, ESPN3


What to watch: BC’s freshmen. Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan have combined to play nearly a third of BC’s available minutes this year (and attempt nearly a third of their shots), but neither have shot particularly well, especially lately. Obviously, both have to play but Hanlan is shooting just 16-of-51in the last four games and Rahon is shooting 7-of-31 in the last three. Both are going to continue to play a lot – and take a lot of shots – but at some point it would help the Eagles if they start, you know, making a few more.

Random Holy Cross facts: Why is Holy Cross known as the Crusaders? If you know anything about history, it’s fairly obvious. Let’s just watch some knight videos.

Now stand aside, worthy adversary. …. Runnin’ away, eh?


And then there’s this.

BC had just better make sure they choose, and choose wisely.

Prediction: Boston College, 61-55. When Boston College beat Providence last week, it was the highest-ranked Ken Pomeroy team (62nd) the Eagles had beaten since knocking off then-No. 24 FSU on February 8, 2012 (of course, BC won only nine games last season). So, progress?

No. 20/17 UNLV (11-1) at North Carolina (9-3), 2:00 PM, ESPN2

Candygram. (See below.)

What to watch: Carolina’s bigs versus UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebs will be shorthanded as forward Mike Moser should miss the game with a dislocated elbow (he’s listed as questionable), and he had 16 points and 18 rebounds in UNLV’s upset win over UNC last season. Freshman forward Anthony Bennett leads the nation’s rookies in scoring, averaging 19.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds. They have plenty of other capable big men, including versatile Khem Birch, a Pitt transfer who can shoot three’s, and senior Quintrell Thomas. UNC’s rotating group of centers: Joel James, Desmond Hubert and Brice Johnson – haven’t been all that consistent or effective, and James Michael McAdoo has struggled against some big-time opponents. The Tar Heels will have their hands full with one of the best players in the nation in Bennett, not to mention his teammates.

Reggie Bullock. There weren’t many positives Carolina could take from its loss to Texas, but Carolina’s junior leader stepping up and attempting a season-high 17 shots should be one of them. He wasn’t great – he hit just six of those attempts – but he got to the line six times (also a season-high) and for the first time, he showed he’s willing to be the guy who steps up in big moments for Carolina. Just because he steps up doesn’t mean he’ll come through, or that Carolina will win. But someone has to be willing to do it consistently.

Random UNLV facts: UNLV adopted the Rebel nickname because they were “rebelling” against the flagship, Nevada-Reno. They adopted a shark mascot in honor of former head coach Jerry “The Shark” Tarkanian, but that has since gone away. But at least it gives us a chance to link these awesome videos!

The landshark eats someone.

Which also allows us to link this, one of the best SNL skits ever.

Prediction: UNLV, 77-72. The Tar Heels really need this win, but I haven’t seen anything from them so far to lead me to believe they’ll get it.

Virginia Tech (9-3) at BYU (9-4), 2:00 PM, ESPNU

“Cougar” not mean what it used to mean.

What to watch: Tempo. The Hokies want to go up-tempo, but can they really hang with a team like BYU? The Cougars are not a great team this year, but they’re good enough and still one of the fastest teams in the country. Virginia Tech has shown flashes of being good in transition, but the Hokies are dangerously thin and that sort of tempo might wear them down.

Anyone other than Erick Green. Seriously. Anyone. Here’s a stat comparison for you from the last three games:

A: 33-63 FG (52.4%), 4-15 3-pt (26.7%), 15-20 FT (75.0%), 85 points (28.3 ppg)

B: 36-114 FG (31.6%), 12-49 3-pt (24.5%), 22-38 FT (57.9%), 106 points (35.3 ppg)

“A” is Green. “B” is the rest of his teammates combined. Yeah. Cadarian Rains had a good game against Bradley, but was a combined 1-of-3 in the other two games sandwiching it. Robert Brown has made just four of his last 30 field-goal attempts and has ten points in the last four games. Jarrell Eddie has been up and down, but at least he’s hit double figures in three straight games. Freshman forward Marshall Wood broke his foot and while he wasn’t a huge contributor (5.8 points), he was averaging 18 minutes. The Hokies weren’t deep to begin with: Christian Beyer, a seldom-used reserve until recently, has seen 52 minutes in the last two games (he still has not made a field goal this year).

Random BYU facts: BYU is not going to change its Cougar mascot anytime soon, but it’s already being rejected as a high school mascot because of its offensive connotations. For those of you who don’t know what a cougar refers to, it’s…forget it, I’ll refer you to Urban Dictionary.

Prediction: BYU, 89-68. Just difficult to see the Hokies being able to win this one with as badly as their supporting cast has looked recently.

Fordham (3-9) at Georgia Tech (8-2), 7:00 PM, ESPN3

What to watch: Some semblance of an offense for Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech is one of the beat teams in the country defensively this year (statistically), but the offense is still coming around. As the From the Rumble Seat blog points out, Georgia Tech is starting to shoot better. But the Yellow Jackets being without Jason Morris (plantar fasciatis) and incorporating some new pieces hasn’t made it any easier, either. Georgia Tech doesn’t have a great win, but it doesn’t have a bad loss. Win these last two non-conference games, make some noise in the ACC and the Yellow Jackets could be looking at an NCAA Tournament bid. If they can get to even a decent level offensively, they could be tough to beat.

Random Fordham facts: The ram nickname came from an 1893 football game, when the students chanted “One dam, two dams, three dams, FORDHAM!” The Jesuit staff didn’t care for that kind of foul language, so they changed “dam” to “ram”. They’ve had live rams over the years, and in the late 1950’s, one of said rams lived in a “1,200-cubic-foot brick hut” built by Grace Kelly’s father. That same ram liked to enjoy “a lager or two” after games in his elaborate Ram Mansion.

Prediction: Georgia Tech, 84-55. Fordham is awful, but especially defensively. Georgia Tech should put up some points.


Wofford (6-6) at Virginia (9-3), 1:00 PM, RSN

Still adorable.

What to watch: UVa’s big men. Virginia made just 38% of its two-pointers in the loss to Old Dominion, a season-low. A big reason for that is how much their starting frontcourt, Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins, struggled. Both have been much-improved this year, but Mitchell shot just 3-of-10 and had eight points (just his second time this season in single digits) and Atkins was 2-of-6 for four points, his fewest since November 12. Both of them combined shot worse from inside the arc than their teammates combined. Wofford is not a defensive juggernaut by any means, but the reason UVa had started to play so well this season was the improvement of Mitchell and Atkins. The Cavaliers will struggle to beat even decent teams like Wofford – and particularly in ACC play – if that doesn’t continue.

Random Wofford facts: We’ve covered the origin of the Terrier here before, and yes, it’s one of the cutest mascots around. So instead of that, here are Wofford students teaching rats to play basketball!

Prediction: UVa, 61-49. In an under-the-radar result, Wofford beat Xavier last Saturday. Virginia hasn’t looked very good as of late. But every time we want to count the Cavaliers out, they win a game they have to win, and this one qualifies.

Last week: 10-4
Overall: 106-28


Duke: Alex Murphy Adjusting to a New Role

It hasn’t been easy for Alex Murphy to adjust to life on the bench. His limited playing time has been somewhat of a surprise, because the redshirt freshman was a preseason starter and someone who Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski compared favorably to former Duke star Kyle Singler.

He has been a healthy scratch twice this year, including in the season-opener against Georgia Southern. He had played a total of 14 minutes all season in five games, and never more than six minutes. His first game action was against Kentucky. The most noteworthy event of his two minutes in that game was Kentucky’s Alex Poythress dunking on him.

The short stints started to wear on him. “For me, it was just a mental thing, just going out there and playing as hard as I can as soon as I get out there,” Murphy said. “It’s not coming in the game worrying about, all right, I have to hit a three or I have to get a shot off. The little things like deflecting a ball, taking a charge grabbing an offensive or defensive rebound: focusing on those things has helped me sort of play looser and not worry about having to hit a shot or something like that.”

But he saw 21 minutes of action against Delaware on Saturday, scoring a career-high ten points to go with seven rebounds, a steal and an emphatic block. At first, every moment seemed to be a make-or-break for him. In the first half, he played eight minutes, missed two three-pointers and got one rebound. On his first touch of the second half, he was whistled for a travel. He looked at his feet and back at the referee in disbelief, crestfallen.

The crowd was on edge waiting for him to make a play. Some of the Cameron Crazies screamed out spontaneously, “Hit Murph!” or “Get Murph a shot!” Whenever a shot would miss, or he’d turn it over, one would yell, “It’s all right, Murph! Keep your head up!” But he scored his first points as a Blue Devil with 11:21 remaining to give Duke a 38-point lead, and the roof over Cameron Indoor Stadium nearly ripped clean off.

And the Crazies aren’t his only advocates. Point guard Quinn Cook has never been reluctant to talk on or off the court, and he’s been in Murphy’s ear constantly, along with junior guard Tyler Thornton. “You always want to let him know that he’s big for us. We need him,” Cook said. “When we’re not telling him that, his confidence could go down or anything could happen, or he could probably doubt himself.

“Me and Tyler especially have been on him: just keep working, we really need you. We’ve been his biggest cheerleaders. It’s good for him to really get his confidence up this game. … Just to get him out there and get him showing a glimpse of what he can do every day is a big thing. He’s leaving this game better.”

It’s still worth pointing out that Krzyzewski is not going to manufacture depth. He has about seven guys that he feels are ready to play – his normal starters, Josh Hairston and Thornton – and that’s about it. Murphy and Amile Jefferson, a freshman who also saw 21 minutes (and had 12 points), both had nice games against Delaware. But for Krzyzewski it doesn’t mean anything beyond that at this point.

Duke’s remaining non-conference schedule will have some games like this Delaware game where those two could, in theory, see some playing time. But that’s not necessarily going to be the case. “For me, the main guys to develop are Mason (Plumlee), Ryan (Kelly), Seth (Curry). This is not like an AAU team or whatever. You have to make sure your group understands its role,” Krzyzewski said.

“Mason’s role this year is different than last year. He has to get a lot of minutes. To see Alex and Amile and Josh (Hairston) play so well today, that’s great. But it doesn’t mean that we’re going to get this wave of substitutions and stuff like that.”

Krzyzewski said that all of his players follow a different developmental path, but that he is always honest with all of them about where they are. “They all have development to go through, and they have to develop under people that they trust. And if you tell them the truth all the time, they have a better chance of trusting you,” Krzyzewski said.

“Each guy is on his own race of becoming better. They’re running their individual races while we’re collectively running a race. The collective race is much more important than your individual race, and you can’t compare your race with another guy.

“Ryan Kelly hardly played his freshman year. Ryan Kelly is a heck of a player right now, and has been. So the example of doing it that way, making sure that they know that we believe in them and we do believe in the kid.”

His approach seems to be working. Jefferson, who has never shown the visible uncertainty of Murphy during his minutes, said that neither player has let it affect them. Both knew that because Seth Curry missed the game with an ankle injury, they might see more time. And both were ready.

“We’re both two confident guys. I don’t think we’ve lost confidence,” Jefferson said. “We might have been a little frustrated at times, but we kept our heads and we know that when our number’s called, we can get out there and make things happen. We’ve just got to keep working and keep knowing that one day, your number will be called and you’ve got to be ready.”


It’s difficult to properly capture the biting, acerbic wit of Krzyzewski because it’s impossible to transcribe the dryness of his humor. (The background needed for some of this exchange was this question asked earlier by a reporter: “How hard is it, even for a legendary coach, to get players that have been told since they probably were in junior high that they’re destined for greatness to become role players and to respond?”)

Reporter: How would you assess your team’s defense?

Krzyzewski: Good, real good. How would you do it?

Reporter: I think real good.

Krzyzewski: Yeah, me too. So we’re in agreement. You have no conflict with a legendary coach. Was it easy for you accept that from me?

Reporter: Absolutely.

Krzyzewski: Then it was easy for me to have this talk like this in front of everybody. I’m just trying to show you, that’s how I would do it. I go in and say, ‘Do you realize you’re playing for a legendary coach?’ (Laughter.) No, I don’t do that.

And Krzyzewski, now feeling it, kept rolling.

Reporter: You were talking about Alex Murphy.

Krzyzewski: You were talking about him.

Reporter: (Runs through Murphy’s numbers.) If you could maybe describe a little bit about how you feel about his play.

Krzyzewski: No, I feel good about everybody’s play. Everybody played well today. Everybody. Everybody. Not one guy played less well than another guy. They were terrific together.

The good times continued to roll, one after the other.

Reporter: Touching on the subject of Mason Plumlee and his development into his senior season, over the past couple of years, there’s been some criticism on (big man coach Steve Wojciechowski) Wojo. Do you feel like getting his due of credit for his development?

Krzyzewski: (Laughs.) Well, Wojo’s one of the best coaches in the world. You can ask – for the seven years that we’e worked with all the best players in the world, ask any of those guys if they wouldn’t want Wojo to coach them.

Reporter: Oh, and I’m not criticizing.

Krzyzewski: No, I’m just saying. So when somebody doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about and says something, why would you pay attention to it? Why would I pay attention to it?

Reporter: Do you feel like he’s getting his due credit?

Krzyzewski: He’s getting credit from me. I don’t know how if his wife feels good about him, what their relationship – I don’t know about that. He’s getting great credit from me. We’re a program that is scrutinized closely, and we’re okay. We’re big boys.

ACC Basketball 2012-13 Season Previews, Part 1

The ACC is as underrated as a conference as Arrested Development was a television show. Okay, maybe not. But since Arrested Development was brilliant in making fun of its characters, the most appropriate way to preview a league we all love is by making fun of it.


2011 record/results: 9-22 overall, 4-12 ACC. All four ACC wins came by a combined 12 points. But one of those wins was over Florida State. (Never forget.)

Lucille Austero: Today at lunch, you were ashamed to be with me.

Gob: No. I was ashamed to be seen with you. I like being with you.


Lucille: Buster. Thank God you’re back. There’s no shame in being a coward.

Buster: A coward? I’m not a coward. Would a coward have THIS?

[holds out a stuffed seal]

Lucille: What the hell is that?

Buster: These are my awards, Mother. From Army. The seal is for marksmanship and the gorilla is for sand racing.

We all secretly love Boston College. A team that played almost all freshman last year managed to defy the odds and…okay, they didn’t defy the odds. Their non-conference losses last year were embarrassing, but they’re still the plucky underdogs.

Reason for optimism: It can’t get any worse, right? BC returns 75% of its scoring and 70% of its minutes played, even with the transfers of Matt Humphrey and Gabe Moton. The Eagles were really young last year, but all of their freshmen got experience. Big men Ryan Anderson and Dennis Clifford had some nice moments, particularly Anderson. As usual, BC will have a plethora of guards that will shoot plenty of 3’s. Maybe they will even make some!

Reason for pessimism: The Eagles are still young with just one junior (the rarely-used Danny Rubin), eight sophomores and four freshmen. And though those freshmen got a lot of playing time, they weren’t a super-talented group anyway. At times, they were physically overwhelmed by their ACC foes. And unless Boston College has a weight room filled with miracles, that’s not likely to change much.


Gob: Is that George Michael’s girlfriend? What is she funny or something?

Michael: I’m sure Egg is a great person.

George Michael Bluth: It’s… it’s Ann.


George Michael: Uh, Uncle GOB, the $20?

George Oscar ‘Gob’ Bluth: A magician never reveals his secrets.

George Michael: I don’t need the secret, I need…

[GOB is gone]

George Michael: Wow, that’s so much like stealing.

Clemson can beat you and leave you scratching your head wondering how exactly that just happened, and where your $20 went. There’s nothing particularly attractive about Clemson’s style, but sometimes it simply works. Clemson is still the ACC’s equivalent of George Michael’s plain girlfriend, Ann.

2011 record/results: 16-15 overall, 8-8 ACC. The Tigers beat two of the ACC’s better teams (Florida State and NC State) at home in spite of going 8-6 in the non-conference with losses at home to Charleston and Coastal Carolina. ACC! ACC!

Reason for optimism: Under head coach Brad Brownell, Clemson’s defense makes it hard on even some of their much more talented opponents to score. Seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings have all the physical skills to take that next step forward, and sophomores like K.J. McDaniels and T.J. Sapp showed flashes.

Reason for pessimism: Clemson lost two of its most important pieces from a year ago in Andre Young and Tanner Smith, and last year’s freshmen, in limited minutes, certainly didn’t prove they could fill that void. Clemson is relying on two mercurial big men in Jennings and Booker to carry the offensive load with an inexperienced point guard in sophomore Rod Hall trying to get them the ball.


[Tobias has painted himself blue]

Tobias Funke: I blue myself.

Michael Bluth: There has got to be a better way to say that.


[Tobias creating buzz around the water cooler]

Tobias Fünke: That Funke is some kind of something. Boy, this Funke is all anybody’s ever talking about. So sick and tired of hearing about how brilliant that Funke is. Overrated.


Lucille: Oh, George, I should have never doubted you. Even when you slept with my sister it was for a good reason.

George Sr.: Got her to stop drinking, didn’t it?

Duke was picked to finish second in the league, but the Blue Devils are fine with lower expectations – in fact, they’ll gladly let NC State carry the load of preseason hype for once, rather than just them and North Carolina. But doubt Mike Krzyzewski at your own peril – he always seems to get it done. Even some of the worst Duke teams under Coach K (since the 80’s) have gone on to at least make the NCAA Tournament.

2011 record/results: 27-7 overall, 13-3 ACC, No. 2 seed in NCAA Tournament, First Round (L to 15-seed Lehigh). According to Ken Pomeroy’s final rankings, five of Duke’s seven losses were to teams outside the top 20 (three to teams ranked 46 or worse). It’s no coincidence that Duke finished 70th in defense per Pomeroy, its worst finish since 2009 (20th).

Reason for optimism: Coach K is a pretty good reason. But another? Senior big man Mason Plumlee is ready to take the next step and become a dominant player, versatile forward Ryan Kelly is healthy, and they have two freshmen – shooting guard Rasheed Sulaimon, and forward Amile Jefferson – ready to inject a shot of energy and talent into the program.

Reason for pessimism: Even if Duke’s defense is improved, they still have to score. There’s a lot of young talent on this team, but no one is as good a scorer as Austin Rivers was last year. Senior Seth Curry is dealing with a foot injury, and Krzyzewski said he likely won’t be fully healthy all year. Sophomore Quinn Cook will take over the point guard duties, and he’s talented but unproven.


Gob: Zero hour, Michael. It’s the end of the line. I’m the firstborn. I’m sick of playing second fiddle. I’m always third in line for everything. I’m tired of finishing fourth. Being the fifth wheel. There are six things I’m mad about, and I’m taking over.


Lucille Austero: Do you like ham?

Carl Weathers: No.


Carl Weathers: I love it.


Narrator: Michael was having brunch with Sally Sitwell at a restaurant called Skip Church’s Bistro. In addition to brunch, the restaurant was known for an item on the menu called the “Skip’s Scramble”, an omelet that contained everything on the menu. Do not order the Skip’s Scramble.

Florida State won the ACC tournament last year for the first time in program history. It was just the second time in 19 years that a team from outside North Carolina won it. FSU has been picked in preseason polls below its actual finish for four straight years now, and the Seminoles are tired of it. At ACC Media Day, Michael Snaer said that if FSU were Duke or North Carolina, everyone would assume they would be good this year instead of picking them fourth. Head coach Leonard Hamilton brings in a plethora of long, athletic players that need some work offensively. But at times, FSU’s rotation has been more of a “Skip’s Scramble” – everyone plays at least ten minutes, only one player scores more than 10 points and everyone gets at least one turnover.

2012 record/results: 25-10 overall, 12-4 ACC, No. 3 seed in NCAA Tournament, Second Round (L to 6-seed Cincinnati). Seven of FSU’s losses were to Pomeroy top-50 teams. But three were to No. 93 Princeton, No. 76 Clemson and No. 259 Boston College.

Reason for optimism: Snaer is great, and point guard Ian Miller can be when he wants to be. It was only two exhibition games, but forward Okaro White appeared ready to be the complementary scorer to Snaer. Junior forward Terrance Shannon is finally healthy. There are some exciting young players. With all the scoring options (four of their top five scorers from a year ago return), the offense is much less likely to go into one of its patented droughts.

Reason for pessimism: As usual, FSU has a lot of big bodies (including three seven-footers), but they’re projects. The Seminoles have always struggled with turnovers and outside shooting, and they don’t have anyone on the roster that has proven they can do either one reliably. Miller doesn’t always defend as well as he needs to, and White has been unreliable at best. A hodgepodge of scoring options hasn’t mattered in past years when FSU’s offense has bogged down: why should this year be any different?

Mason’s Moment

Duke senior forward Mason Plumlee is ready for this to be his team.

Mason Plumlee could have easily entered the NBA Draft last April. The Draft Express website predicted he would have gone 12th overall. The agile, athletic and strong 6-11 big man can run the floor well, and showed last season that he’s capable of scoring with his back to the basket as opposed to on tip-ins and fastbreak dunks.

But under his weaknesses, Mike Schmitz of Draft Express wrote in his evaluation video: “shooting range, scoring prowess, consistency and lateral quickness.” Two of those – scoring prowess and consistency – have been the biggest knock on the talented Plumlee since he got to Duke.

Under consistency, Schmitz wrote: “Lacks a great feel for the game…Can disappear in games and isn’t always a consistent presence…Duke needs him to be a major factor….Can he be relied on as a No. 1 guy?” We’re about to find out. During head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s preseason press conference, he declared that Plumlee would be the key to Duke’s 2012-13 season.

“It’s his time to be the key guy. He’s the key guy. Ryan (Kelly) and Seth (Curry) are also key guys, but Mason is the key guy,” Krzyzewski said. “I love when a guy wants that. He owns it. … He’s not making predictions or anything – he’s just saying, ‘I’m going to be there for you and let’s see what the heck is going to happen.’

“I just think he’s one of the best players in the United States. He having that type of year will be key for us. i’m very anxious to see how that will turn out. I’m excited for him. … You’ve got to be in their moments. I’m anxious to be in his moment and see what it produces.”

High praise from one of the best basketball coaches of all time. When Plumlee made the decision to return to Duke for his senior year, though, he committed himself fully to the program. “I think that showed (Krzyzewski) that it was more than just talk. It was like, I’m back. I’m here. (Krzyzewski) was the one that really sat down and convinced me this is where I needed to be,” Plumlee said. “There’s more to be gained this year and we could do something special this year.”

Kelly, a fellow senior forward, has seen a different Plumlee in the off-season. “He’s definitely on a mission. There’s no question about it,” Kelly said. “He’s in the gym more than anybody else. That’s what you want out of a guy who could have been a first-round NBA draft pick. He came back and said, ‘We’ve all got something to prove.’”

Krzyzewski’s ability to adapt his offense each year depending on his personnel is well-known, and this year will be no different. Last year, Austin Rivers took the lion’s share of Duke’s shots. But he entered last year’s NBA draft, and someone will have to step up to fill that void. It will be a big change for Plumlee, who attempted ten or more shots in a game just nine times last season. He got to the foul line ten or more times just four times.

But Krzyzewski all but said this would be a more post-oriented offense, without a lot of the pick-and-roll types of sets that Duke has run so much of over the last few years. “I think we’re going to be more of a team that helps each other get shots. In the last 12 years, except when J.J. (Redick) was here, we’ve done a lot of stuff with the pick-and-roll or ball screen because we had breakdown guys,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re not really that type of team. I think we can score inside really well this year. The balance will be better.”

Plumlee shot 57.2% from the floor but attempted just 13.1% of Duke’s shots on the season (12.5% of the team’s shots in ACC play). That’s going to need to increase significantly, and Plumlee is going to need to be more assertive, too. To Krzyzewski and Plumlee’s teammates, that’s been the most encouraging part of Plumlee’s offseason development. Krzyzewski said that Plumlee was calling him often – “not texts or tweets…but actually voices” – to let him know how workouts were going.

“In the time I’ve been coaching, I’ve been lucky to have so many good players. The great ones are the ones who grab you and say, ‘Let’s do this together. I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’ You form a bond with those players,” Krzyzewski said. “I really love where he’s at. If we do something special this year, a big thing will be because of him. I don’t think that puts pressure on him. I think he wants that.”

His teammates read the news, too. They know how high Plumlee would have gone in last year’s draft. They respect his decision to come back, and his fellow seniors have fed off of Plumlee’s newfound intensity, and it has trickled down to the rest of the team. Last year’s Duke team got along with each other fine and played hard. But this year’s Duke team appears to already have something extra behind it, a little bit more energy, a little bit more of an edge.

“(Plumlee) ready to take on that role and you can definitely see it in the workouts, in the weight room. He just attacks everything. HIm, Seth and Ryan really have assumed that leadership role that we need with our seniors and everybody else has pretty much followed,” Tyler Thornton said. “You can just feel the energy in the gym and we just feed off those guys. We really want to do something special for those guys because they put in a great amount of work in the past three years. We just want to have fun for them their senior year.”

Duke, Ryan Kelly and the Stretch 4

Duke's Ryan Kelly, a versatile big man, fills a key role for Duke that has been around for decades.

DURHAM, NC — It’s no coincidence that without injured junior forward Ryan Kelly (sprained foot) Duke’s offense struggled this weekend in the ACC Tournament. An effective three-point shooter who can also play down low, Kelly’s Stretch 4 position is as identifiable with Duke as pesky defense.

“I really think that we kind of started that whole thing about 25 years ago,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “If you look at the history of our program, we’ve had a lot of really good guys in that position who have gone out to be pros and lottery picks.”

Mark Alarie was the first, although the three-point line didn’t exist while he was at Duke. But Danny Ferry, one of the best players in college basketball history, helped perfect it. The 6-10 forward hit nearly 39% of his three-point attempts and added 7.0 rebounds over his Duke career.

Grant Hill and even the great Christian Laettner – known as a center – could stretch the floor. Krzyzewski cited a game at Louisiana State against a tough zone defense anchored by Shaquille O’Neal where two Laettner three-pointers helped give Duke the win.

“To me, as much as anything in our program, that position has been kind of innovative and then it became – obviously, anything we do is never innovative,” Krzyzewski said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “But we actually do come up with some good things over the years.”

A long line of Stretch 4’s have followed, multi-dimensional matchup nightmares that make Duke nearly impossible to guard: Mike Dunleavy, Shane Battier, Luol Deng, Kyle Singler.

“If you’re a chess player, it’s like having the queen. That guy could do anything,” Krzyzewski said. “He could go anywhere on the court and as a result, you have a lot of unpredictable movement, which gave space to your other guys. That’s why we’ve been such a good driving team and usually, a team you can’t double in the post.”

Kelly isn’t as dynamic a scorer or as good a rebounder as the Stretch 4’s that preceded him. But his presence alone – particularly when he’s hitting shots – makes a huge difference.

The Blue Devils struggled offensively without him in two games in the ACC Tournament, shooting just 37.1% from the floor and averaging 59.5 points. Duke has to hit three’s to win, and it made just 10-of-46 three-pointers in Atlanta.

“With (Kelly) out, you can load up better on the three. You can hedge better or step in better on ball screens because you can protect the lane and you’re not worried about two or three guys. You might be worried about one other guy and you can match up with him,” Krzyzewski said. “Quite frankly, you become an easier team to defend.”

In the five Duke losses Kelly has played in, he shot 8-of-31 from the floor and averaged 5.0 points. In his other 26 games, he shot 99-of-210 and averaged 13.2 points.

A big reason Duke beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill earlier this season was that Kelly took the Tar Heels’ shot-blocker John Henson out on the perimeter. The most critical thing Kelly’s presence does is create spacing on the floor. Duke loves to spread the court and drive, and with a Stretch 4 like Kelly, everyone is a threat to make a three-pointer after a kick-out.

“Spacing is good when the spacers can do what space gives you. So when we have (Mason and Miles) Plumlee in there, it’s a more congested court, although we’re better on the boards,” Krzyzewski said. “Then if they play off your point (guard) like they did down in Atlanta – whoever it is, Tyler (Thornton) or Quinn (Cook) – then that clogs it even more.”

Krzyzewski likes to have a Stretch 4, but he’s the all-time winningest coach in college basketball because he can adjust to his personnel. Kelly sprained his foot in the week preceding the ACC Tournament, and he has been running in the pool. “If we were playing water polo, I guess he’d be ready to go today. But we’re not,” Krzyzewski quipped.

Krzyzewski said he hopes to have Kelly back by Thursday, but right now he is day-to-day. Duke can win games in the NCAA tournament without him, but having him will be key in the later rounds.

“We have to do some things to get movement, and that’s what we worked on (Monday at practice), to get a little bit different movement than we had down in Atlanta,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s stuff that we’ve done during the year but gotten away from a little bit. … At times the way we were running offense, we were offensively-challenged, which we haven’t been until (Kelly) went out.”

ACC Tournament Friday Previews (Late Session)

No. 2 Duke (26-5) vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech (16-16), 7:00 PM, ESPN2/ACC Network/ESPN3

Jarrell Eddie (left) could take a lot of pressure off of his high-scoring teammates.

Duke probably dodged a bullet by not drawing Clemson in this game, but the Hokies did give Duke a scare in Durham not long ago. Still, Virginia Tech is so offensively limited that Duke should win this one easily.

Key to the game: Virginia Tech’s support players. Even with Ryan Kelly sitting out this game with an injury, Virginia Tech really doesn’t have much of a chance to win if Dorenzo Hudson and Erick Green are their only scoring threats. Last time Virginia Tech played Duke, Cadarian Raines chipped in 16 points and no one else offered much help. Jarrell Eddie had nine rebounds, but fouled out. Dorian Finney-Smith shot just 2-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-8 from the foul line. If only Green and Hudson are on, it makes the Hokies very easy to defend.

Random stat: Duke shot just 25% from three in their last meeting against Virginia Tech. It was their lowest mark since February 2nd.

Prediction: Duke 75, Virginia Tech 62

No. 3 Florida State (21-9) vs. No. 6 Miami (19-11), 9:00 PM, ESPN2/ACC Network/ESPN3

Bernard James makes it difficult for Florida State's opponents to score inside.

This one should be exciting, which means it will probably be terrible. But the bottom line is Florida State has as clear a path as it has ever had to win this Tournament for the first time, and Miami needs a win over a good team in the worst way.

Key to the game: Can Florida State shut down Miami’s bigs? Georgia Tech seemed to do that just fine, holding Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson to 12 points on 4-of-20 shooting. Johnson missed the second game against FSU, but Kadji had 15 points and Dequan Jones had a nice game as well. Florida State has so much length inside and Bernard James gives everyone trouble. If they can make Miami one-dimensional, the Seminoles should win easily.

Random stat: Miami averaged 1.01 points per possession in a home win over Florida State a few weeks ago. It was the second-highest average put up against FSU in ACC play – Clemson led the way in FSU’s ACC debut, putting up 1.04 points per possession against FSU.

Prediction: Florida State 73, Miami 61

ACC February 25 Previews

Virginia Tech (15-13, 4-9) at Duke (24-4, 11-2), 12:00 PM, ACC Network/ESPN3

Ryan Kelly has been doing the dirty work for Duke in recent games.

All signs point to an epic showdown pitting Duke and North Carolina in the season finale, and Duke only has to beat Virginia Tech and Wake Forest to hold up their end of the bargain. Virginia Tech will fight hard, but at this point, the Hokies will be fortunate to make the NIT.

Key to the game: Ryan Kelly. Duke’s junior forward has quietly improved into one of Duke’s most critical players, and his line at Florida State wasn’t as good as his floor game. He made some critical plays when his team needed them the most, and he had some fantastic passes to set up his teammates for easy scores or free throws. Duke’s junior class (except Mason Plumlee) had been largely absent until recently, when Kelly, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins have all stepped up their games. Duke needs them to continue to do that because there’s not a ton of experience elsewhere on the roster.

Random stat: Virginia Tech hasn’t played as well as it could at times, but the Hokies have had 10 of their 13 ACC games decided by five points or fewer and are 4-6 in those games. Their only double-digit losses have come to North Carolina, Duke and Miami. If there’s a good sign for the Hokies, it’s that they’ve won three of their last five decided by five points or less after starting ACC play 1-5 in such games. But just one of those wins have come on the road (at Virginia).

Prediction: Duke 76, Virginia Tech 59


Boston College (8-19, 3-10) at Wake Forest (12-15, 3-10), 1:00 PM, RSN/ESPN3

Steve Donahue's young Boston College team is incredibly well-coached.

I wrote at the beginning of conference play that if Boston College head coach Steve Donahue won five ACC games, I’d vote for him as Coach of the Year. He’s still wins two away but has Wake Forest and Georgia Tech as two of his remaining games. Watching BC play, they’re obviously well-coached but execution can only take you so far: experience and talent matter. Wake Forest has been pretty much the exact opposite of BC and yet they’re more talented, which is why they handled the Eagles in Chestnut Hill earlier this year. In theory, they should again.

Key to the game: Boston College’s three-point shooting. The Eagles aren’t going to win many games if they don’t hit three’s. And they’ve hit 10-of-33 in their last two games, losing both by double digits. Last time against Wake, they hit just 4-of-21 3’s (19%, their lowest percentage in ACC play). Maybe with a few days to rest, they’ll be able to knock some down in Winston-Salem. But Wake’s had time off too and it’s clear they’re still mentally engaged.

Random stat: Believe it or not, there are scenarios that exist for BC to get an eight-seed in the ACC Tournament (courtesy of BC Interruption). If you are so inclined, click here.

Prediction: Wake Forest 69, Boston College 59


Maryland (16-11, 6-7) at Georgia Tech (9-18, 2-11), ACC Network split/ESPN3

James Padgett (right) made huge plays for Maryland late in the comeback win over Miami.

Maryland still has an outside shot at a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament, but with games against Virginia and Carolina remaining, it’s not likely. Still, the Terrapins need to build on their positive momentum after a huge comeback win over Miami and they have to beat Georgia Tech, who has looked awful lately.

Key to the game: James Padgett’s development. With Alex Len and Ashton Pankey going through freshmen inconsistencies, Padgett has been perhaps the most consistent big man for Maryland this year. Padgett is 17th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and in the last three games, he is averaging 12.3 points per game. In Maryland’s ACC wins, Padgett has averaged 12.2 points in Maryland’s six ACC wins and 6.6 in ACC losses. The Terrapins really need him to develop.

Random stat: Georgia Tech is now averaging 50.2 points per game at home in ACC play. Since their home opener against Duke when they scored 74 points, Georgia Tech has not scored more than 52 points and has averaged 45.4 points in that span.

Prediction: Maryland 66, Georgia Tech 49


NC State (18-10, 7-6) at Clemson (14-13, 6-7), ACC Network split/ESPN3

NC State's Scott Wood has had a frustrating last three games.

As crazy as it may sound, this game could help determine fourth place in the conference standings. All five of the teams fighting for that spot (with records between 8-5 and 6-7) have tough remaining schedules. If NC State wants to have any shot at an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, it likely has to win out. Clemson is playing better lately and it’s a tough place to play, so it won’t be easy.

Keys to the game: Closing strong. Taking out a 22-point loss to North Carolina, Clemson’s ACC losses have all come by seven points or less. Clemson has just really struggled at making key plays late in close games, whether it be making foul shots or making a big basket when they really need it. NC State, on the other hand, is 2-2 in games decided by five points or less in league play (6-3 overall). But the Wolfpack’s confidence has really been hurt with its three-game losing streak, and that could turn the tide in Clemson’s favor, particularly at home.

Scott Wood. NC State’s junior sharp-shooter has been anything but lately, making just 3-of-22 shots over the last three games (all losses) and just 3-of-15 three’s. He seems visibly frustrated, not to mention exhausted. But NC State needs him: he has averaged 16.7 points in State’s seven ACC wins and just 8.3 in losses. Maybe with a few days off, he will have his legs back under him.

Random stat: While four of Clemson’s six league wins have come against the bottom three teams in the league (Wake Forest and Georgia Tech), Their other two wins have come against the No. 3 team (FSU) and No. 4 team (Virginia). And of NC State’s five wins, six have come against the bottom three teams.

Prediction: N.C. State 67, Clemson 65


North Carolina (24-4, 11-2) at Virginia (21-6, 8-5), 4:00 PM, ESPN/ESPN3

John Henson had 10 rebounds against Virginia in the first meeting this year.

Charlottesville has traditionally been a house of horrors for North Carolina, but the Tar Heels showed impressive focus on the road at NC State on Tuesday. Virginia had a nice road win as well but the Cavaliers are extremely hobbled right now. Virginia doesn’t match up well with Carolina, but that doesn’t always matter in hostile road environments.

Keys to the game: North Carolina on the offensive glass. The Tar Heels dominated the backboards against a Virginia team that typically doesn’t allow opponents to do that, and you’d better believe UVA head coach Tony Bennett will emphasize that to his team in the rematch. Virginia is very difficult to score on, particularly on a first-shot opportunity, but Carolina is starting to take better shots as opposed to just forcing up looks and rebounding their misses as they did against Virginia.

Virginia’s three-point shooting. North Carolina is going to give up some open looks from three, but the Cavaliers have to knock them down. Lately they’ve been doing that, hitting 15-of-35 three’s (42.9%) in their last two games. Prior to that, Virginia had made just 48-of-171 three’s (28.1%) in league play. Carolina’s ACC opponents have made 33.8% of their three’s but the two teams that have beaten them in league play (Florida State and Duke) had to combine to shoot 26-of-63 (41.3%) from beyond the arc. Virginia may not have to make that many, but they’ll have to make more than they did in Chapel Hill (3-of-16, 18.8 percent).

Random stat: North Carolina posted its third-highest offensive efficiency number this season (per Ken Pomeroy) against NC State on Tuesday. But the Tar Heels allowed an offensive efficiency of 110.9, the fifth-highest it has allowed this year (the other four higher offensive efficiencies allowed by Carolina resulted in losses). It’s a big swing for NC State, which posted a 77.2 rating in Chapel Hill, its lowest of the year.

Prediction: North Carolina 68, Virginia 59


Last week: 10-3

Season: 120-41 (56-22 ACC)

Duke at North Carolina, Part 2

Ryan Kelly (No. 34 in the middle) could cause problems for North Carolina's interior defense if he can pull John Henson (No. 31 in white, shooting) out on the perimeter.

Here’s part two of the Duke-Carolina preview, with a few more stats and players to keep an eye on, plus a final prediction.

Stat to watch: The foul line. This is a battle of two teams that both thrive on getting to the foul line and generally keep opponents off of it. For Carolina, they haven’t been to the line as much (7th in the ACC in free throw rate) and Duke hasn’t kept opponents off of it as well as it has in the past (9th in defensive free-throw rate). Duke is getting to the line quite a bit (2nd in free throw rate), but North Carolina isn’t allowing opponents to get there much (1st in defensive free-throw rate). Duke gets 20.6% of its points from the free-throw line in conference (third-most in the league) and 22.8% in all games (50th nationally) while North Carolina’s opponents get 18.1% of their points from the foul line on the year (273rd-most nationally) and conference opponents just 19.2%.

On the road in the ACC, Duke has scored 24.4% of its points from the foul line (just 16.7% at home) while Carolina’s ACC opponents have scored just 9.5% of their points from the foul line. Something’s got to give. The Tar Heels have shot almost the same at home in league play (67.1%) as on the road (68.8%) but they average more attempts (23.3) on the road than at home (18.3). But their opponents average a lot more attempts – and make a lot more – at home as well, shooting 61.5% on 9.8 attempts in the Smith Center compared to 74.7% on 20.8 attempts in Carolina road games. In the Smith Center, Carolina has out-shot its opponents from the foul line 73-39 (outscoring them 49-24) in four games.

Duke shot just 63.3% in two non-conference road games (both losses) attempting just 15 foul shots. Their opponents actually didn’t fare much better (64.3% and 14.0 attempts). But in ACC play, Duke has really dominated the foul line on the road, averaging 22 attempts and making 84.1% of them. Their opponents have averaged 18.5 attempts and made just 59.5 percent. At home, Duke has shot just 61.7% from the foul line in four league games (averaging 20.3 attempts) and opponents have shot better at 68.5% (22.3 attempts per game). How often do Duke opponents average more free throws in Cameron? But the more important stat is that Duke’s road opponents aren’t getting to the line as much and a newly-focused road Duke team not only is getting to the line, but making them. They’ll have to keep up that trend tonight. Duke is 3-3 this season when making the same or fewer amount of free throws as its opponent and 16-1 when making more free throws.

Important players: Ryan Kelly, Duke and Tyler Zeller, North Carolina. Tyler Zeller may be a senior, but he has only seen significant meetings in four of the eight Carolina-Duke games in his tenure (one in 2010 and all three last year). He has averaged 15 points in those meetings on 59% shooting, adding 23 rebounds and four blocks. Last year, he had 24 and 13 in Cameron but just 28 total in the final two meetings on 12-of-22 shooting with just nine rebounds in the final two games combined. But he is on perhaps the most torrid stretch of his career, averaging 17.8 points in ACC play and scoring 78 points in 103 minutes over the last four games. He is shooting 60% in that span (which includes a 5-of-13 performance at Wake) and 24-of-28 from the foul line (85.7%). He has also averaged 11.3 rebounds, a steal and four blocks in the last four games. He needs to maintain that pace and be the kind of factor in this game that Sean May and Tyler Hansbrough have been in years past for North Carolina.

In Duke’s four losses, Ryan Kelly has been either invisible or has struggled in all of them, shooting 30.4% and averaging 5.8 points. In two ACC losses, he has shot 31.6% and averaged 9.0 points compared to shooting 55.1% and 14.5 points in Duke’s six ACC wins. But the matchup is still a tricky one for North Carolina, as Kelly can post up and score as well as he can shoot three’s. North Carolina’s John Henson is a prolific shot-blocker, but Kelly should try to pull him out to the perimeter to open up space for Duke’s guards to drive to the basket. Kelly barely played in his first two career games against North Carolina (in 2010) but in three meetings last year, he had a total of 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting (2-of-13 from three). in the first two meetings, he had just six points on 1-of-14 shooting (1-of-11 from three) but in Duke’s blowout win in the ACC Tournament, he had nine points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with three steals and three blocks.

Random stat(s): In the Mike Krzyzewski era, North Carolina leads the all-time series 38-36 (although Duke lists it as 36-36 since Coach Krzyzewski was out with a back injury in the 1994-95 season). … Duke’s Mason Plumlee made just 2-of-10 foul shots against Virginia. He has made 19-of-23 (82.6%) in the six conference games since. …. North Carolina is 11-2 when Kendall Marshall plays 35 or more minutes. … North Carolina has shot 50% or better from the floor just three times in its last 24 halves.

Prediction: North Carolina 84, Duke 77


Last week: 10-2

Season: 100-34 (36-15 ACC)

Virginia at Duke

Virginia (14-1, 1-0) at Duke (13-2, 1-0), 9:00 PM, ESPN/ESPN3

Sammy Zeglinski has shot just 9-of-40 against Duke in his career.

This has been a popular upset pick, but Virginia’s style is not as bad a matchup with Duke as some people think it is. Duke is fine with playing a slower tempo, and Virginia doesn’t have the type of players that can exploit Duke’s struggling defense (quick and athletic), particularly on the perimeter. But Virginia will be anxious to prove it is for real and Tony Bennett-coached teams rarely hurt themselves with silly mistakes, even in hostile environments. If Duke crushes Virginia, it’s a sign that the ACC is even worse than it appears.

Stat(s) to watch: Duke’s three-point percentage/Duke’s offensive rebounds. Virginia wants to force Duke to take jump shots, but Duke has no problem doing that. Virginia is holding opponents to 27% from three, 11th in the nation; Duke is shooting 41.7% from three, 7th nationally. Virginia also doesn’t allow opponents many extra looks – they’re eighth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage allowed. Virginia’s opponents have averaged 6.7 second-chance points on 7.9 offensive rebounds while Duke is averaging 12 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. Duke has shot well from three all year but is shooting just 12-of-36 (33.3%) in its last two games. UVA has held its last four opponents to 19-of-71 from three (26.8%), including hot-shooting Miami. If Duke doesn’t shoot well from three AND can’t get its own misses, Virginia could win. Even then, the Cavaliers will have to shoot well themselves and hope they don’t get into foul trouble.

Most important players: Ryan Kelly, Duke and Sammy Zeglinski, Virginia. Mike Scott is Virginia’s best player, and it’s not close. Joe Harris has been great this year and had some nice games against Duke as well last year. But Zeglinski has been awful against Duke over his career, shooting 9-of-40 from the floor (22.5%) and 1-of-17 from three. UVA doesn’t stand a chance without good nights from its perimeter scorers, particularly Zeglinski.

Ryan Kelly has learned to draw fouls at a much higher rate this season (which Rush the Court wrote about here) and he’s Duke’s wild card in this game. Mike Scott is capable of guarding Kelly inside and outside, but Kelly has shown a propensity to draw fouls and that could limit Scott as well. Virginia just doesn’t have a lot of big bodies, particularly the types of big bodies that can handle Kelly defensively. Kelly saved Duke against Georgia Tech with a season-high 21 points (14-of-14 from the foul line).

Random stat: Of 12 ACC teams, two (Miami and Boston College) have never beaten Duke in Cameron. Of the non-expansion teams, Virginia has the second-longest drought: their last win there came January 14, 1995 (Clemson’s was January 4, 1995). Duke has won 43 straight at home since losing to Carolina in 2009. Four ACC teams won in Cameron in 2007 but since 2008, Duke has won by fewer than ten points in a home ACC game just three times. Duke’s average margin of victory in ACC road games since 2008 is just +4.5.

Prediction: Duke 68, Virginia 60


Last week: 6-3 (4-2)

Season: 67-23 (6-4)

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