Duke welcomes Miami to Cameron Saturday afternoon, and like a lot of games this year, it's going to come down to this: Duke has to impose a style on Miami which they're not used to and which runs against everything they normally do.
Frank Haith came to Miami from Texas, where he was the top assistant to Rick Barnes. At Clemson, and in early times at Texas, Barnes built teams around a beefy front line and competent but not great guards. It was good enough to win consistently, although none of those teams had the athleticism he now gets at Texas.
Miami is not far off that model. The 'Canes start 6-9 Anthony King, 6-8 Dwayne Collins, 6-2 Lance Hurdle, 6-2 James Dews, and 6-1 Jack McClinton. Brian Asbury, an athletic 6-7 forward, is in reserve, along with 6-9 power player Jimmy Graham and 6-7 Raymond Hicks.
Miami is a bit of a mystery this season. They have enough depth and talent to do more damage than they have done so far. In the ACC, UNC and B.C. had double-digit wins; except for an early win over Georgia Tech, their losses were games that could have gone the other way: they lost an absolute heartbreaker to N.C. State, 79-77 in overtime, a loss which reportedly devastated King, and another last-second loss to Wake when Ish Smith hit a shot with time running out.
Their luck isn't as bad as Clemson's or FSU's, where injuries have just gutted those teams, but it is a young team learning how to handle close conference games.
There's no big secret to what Duke is going to try to do to Miami: push them hard, turn the ball over, get lots of points in transition. It's worked well for this team.
Miami, though, may match up better with the Devils than almost any conference team Duke has faced so far, with the possible exception of Florida State. The 'Canes take pretty good care of the ball, with around 13 turnovers per game, and while they have size, like Maryland, they can also go small and quick. Don't be surprised to see Asbury get a lot of minutes in this game, possibly at the expense of Collins. Collins is a fair athlete, but Asbury stands a better chance of chasing someone like DeMarcus Nelson around.
Miami may opt to match up with Duke's quickness, but they'll surely try to exploit their size advantage inside. King is an excellent rebounder and shotblocker. He's not a great offensive player - he's only hitting .451 from the floor, and he's not shooting from outside - but he can be effective.
The player Duke has to address first, though, is Jack McClinton. The Siena transfer had a great year last season, and is playing well again, although not shooting phenomenally well. But he can heat it up and get streaky, and if he does, he elevates his team.
The other factor which will be tough is the quick turnaround from Thursday's game. There's not much time for Duke to rest, and State proved to be a physical, wearing opponent. If Miami were to pull off the upset, State might claim some credit.