Next up for Duke is Boston College in a rematch after the earlier game in Cameron. Duke won easily, 79-59, or at least that's how it looks now. If you remember though, it was a very close game at halftime with Duke leading 38-35.
They outscored the Eagles in the second half by 17 and after that, people forget how frustrating the first half was.
And as we've seen at Duke this year, playing at home can be pretty different in the ACC.
And aside from those things, our impression is that Boston College is improving rather quickly. That's partially substantiated by this ESPN article by Brian McPherson, where he talks about the vastly improved bench play Al Skinner is getting. Dallas Elmore and Courtney Dunn in particular are contributing a lot defensively.
They did beat Clemson remember, although Clemson was lacking Demontez Stitt, and they were close against Florida State.
Add to all this the exhausting nature of the Georgia Tech game for Duke and you can see this that this matchup could be trouble.
B.C. has enough talent to hurt you. Joe Trapani is a very similar player to Kyle Singler; he's fiery, he can shoot or drive, and he inspires his team. Corey Raji and Rakim Sanders are really built more like football players and they can pound you accordingly. Josh Southern isn't a particularly great center, but is effective enough, and Dunn of course is coming on.
Biko Paris didn't play particularly well in Durham, but he's capable. But our favorite guy for B.C. is Reggie Jackson. We think he's going to be pretty good, and nothing he did in Durham changed our mind, least of all that massive drive and dunk late in the game.
We are not huge fans of Tyler Roche, but at times he's been a very effective shooter.
And let's face it, playing an Al Skinner team is rarely fun. They've been up and down for about the last year and a half, but for our money, they're definitely on the up-tick. They really don't play like any other ACC team. They're very cautious and averse to mistakes, work hard for high percentage shots, and their interior passing game is usually among the best in the ACC. They opt for efficiency and mostly avoid flash and swagger.
At their best, they don't make a lot of mistakes offensively or defensively and they make you work for everything. Playing these guys is sort of like going to the dentist: you know you are going to be in for some pain.
So what to expect this time? Our guess is that, like all of Duke's road trips so far, a lot depends on how the Devils play. If they come out and play good defense and work hard, things will be good, win or lose. If they play like they played at State or Wisconsin, things will not be good and they'll probably lose.
There are a lot of good things to build on after the Georgia Tech game. Duke has a chance to extend their lead in the conference and to start building towards the tournament. This might not seem like a big game to some others, because B.C. has a mediocre record. Don't buy it, and don't think for a minute that they can't win. They absolutely can.
What's more, this is a very critical game for them. They've had to go on a considerable run at this point to make the NCAA tournament, but without this game, their chances are sharply reduced. It's not quite a last stand -- that's what the ACC tournament is -- but if they have any hope whatsoever of earning a bid before then, they have to make their case now. Don't think they don't know it and don't think you'll see a casual effort, because you won't. They will fight like hell, and it will take an equal fight to beat them.
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