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Next Up - Wake Forest

Next up for Duke is Wake Forest, and there are no secrets between the two teams at this point.

The closest thing to a secret is that Wake hasn't really seen Elliot Williams in person, and that's assuming he starts again. He had a very solid game against St. John's in the Garden, but St. John's is not Wake and the Johnnies lack anything approaching Jeff Teague.

In a lot of ways, Wake presents some tremendous matchup challenges. In the previous game, Duke started off trying to counter Chas McFarland with Brian Zoubek, but that didn't last too long. Zoubek struggled against Wake's great frontcourt athleticism. So did Lance Thomas, who, like Zoubek, only played 13 minutes.

Things have changed a lot since then. Elliot Williams played only 3 minutes against Wake, and Nolan Smith started, and also held Teague to 11 points at a time when he was on an absolute tear.

Despite Wake's athletic advantage, Duke held Al-Farouq Aminu to 5-14 from the floor and Teague to 4-14.

They struggled with James Johnson (4-8) and McFarland (4-6).

The perception in the first game was that Duke had a tough time with Wake's athleticism, and that was true. But here are a couple of points to remember, in retrospect: Although Wake got there more, Duke got to the line more than it seemed, and kept the game close. Duke also outrebounded the Deacs, 45-39 and 14-9.

They took a hit on turnovers (15-11) and on three point shooting (4-22). But consider: one less foul trip for the Deacs or one more three pointer for Duke, and the Devils might have won.

A few other things have changed since then. Gerald Henderson has had an amazing season, but the last couple of games were not his best. And in the Wake game, Kyle Singler shot 7-19. Lately he's been better than that.

And finally, Dave McClure got 25 minutes against Wake but sat out the St. John's game with symptoms of food poisoning, and Lance Thomas has improved markedly since the game in Winston, injecting passion and leadership into his team.

With the turn to Williams, Duke now has a starting lineup which has tremendous versatility, especially on defense, although it hasn't really showed up yet as much as it might have.  But the potential is there.  Chris Collins compares the lineup, somewhat hopefully, to the great Illinois team which went to the Final Four under Lou Henson.  We remember seeing them during a huddle and thinking, man, those guys are all the same size.  They were one of our all-time favorite teams.  If Duke could get anywhere near that model, it'd be a lot of fun to watch.

Like Duke, Wake has also been erratic since the game in Winston, going 3-3 since. They lost to Georgia Tech in a major upset, Miami in a shockingly big loss the same day Duke was crushed by Clemson, and were upset by N.C. State, 82-76.

All three losses were on the road.

Since the game in Winston-Salem, it's become clear that Wake has some vulnerabilities, including especially outside shooting. One wonders how their own pack-line defense would work if turned against them.

It's going to be an intense, high-stakes game, and clearly Duke still has some issues, most recently demonstrated by St. John's offensive success. But with some perspective, it's not as if it's hopeless.  Duke has a lot going for it, including one factor which hasn't really been discussed.

There's been a lot of talk about Scheyer's shooting slump, but Henderson has struggled in recent games: in the last five, he's shot 5-13, 8-18, 7-16, 8-21 and 4-12 - 32-80.  That pretty much coincides with Duke's struggles, at least offensively.  He might be just about ready to bust out of that.