Next up for Duke is Georgia Tech, and while the Yellowjackets have certainly struggled this year, they pose a unique challenge.
When Duke has struggled this season, it's generally been against smaller, quicker or more athletic teams: Florida State, St. John's, and Miami come to mind.
Obviously, you have to control guard Iman Shumpert to beat Georgia Tech.Â Brian Oliver would be a problem, but we're not expecting to see him since he broke his thumb earlier this month.
Mfon Udofia hasn't been as good a point guard as we thought he might be, but he is quick and dangerous and capable.
Glen Rice, Lance Storrs and Mo Miller are also capable of disruption.
Tech is thin in the frontcourt, but Daniel Miller has shown some heart and Kammeon Holsey has the potential to be a dominant rebounder defender at the least.
Still, Georgia Tech hasn't won a road game in the ACC in quite a while.Â Unless we misread, a quick check shows that their last one was against Boston College in the 2007-08 season (we did misread - they beat UNC at Chapel Hill last year.Â You'd think we'd remember that).
If that changes on Sunday, Paul Hewitt says it will have to start by denying Duke the three-point shot.
Unfortunately, denying the three-point shot has been a weakness for this team: they're the worst in the conference at defending the line and Duke leads the conference in three-point shooting.
Their priority will have to be Nolan Smith, who's turned out to be a sensational senior. Kyle Singler by contrast has been in a slump lately, but a few years ago we linked to a study about sports averages and statistics. The upshot: cold streaks and hot streaks balance out and guys find their level.Â It seems obvious, but fans tend to get too worked up about shooting either way.
If he's been cold, it just means he's due to get hot.Â All things considered, better to have your cold streak in February.
Other than Smith and Singler, Tech will also have to control Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins.
Aside from the three-point game, Georgia Tech also has to stop Mason and Miles Plumlee and Kelly inside as well.
The younger Plumlee is improving rapidly and is going to be a load for Miller, who is not as athletic.
Still, even in a down year, even in a bad year for Georgia Tech, this rivalry has a history of riveting games. Duke will be heavily favored and should be, but in the ACC, you take your opponents lightly at your own risk.
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