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Next Up - Florida State

Gametime: Noon | TV: ESPN | Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium

Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots the ball as Miami Hurricanes forward Donnavan Kirk (22) defends in the first half at BankUnited Center
Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots the ball as Miami Hurricanes forward Donnavan Kirk (22) defends in the first half at BankUnited Center
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Next up for Duke is Florida State, a team that's given the Blue Devils fits the last few years.

Though this team is notably better than last year's, which was way off of Leonard Hamilton's recent level of excellence, it's not quite back up to the Michael Snaer-led level of brilliance.

You remember Snaer, surely: he's the guy who hit a corner jumper with seconds left on the clock two years ago in Cameron to knock Duke off.

That was a pretty good team, remember: it featured Bernard James, the former soldier who manned the post, Luke Loucks, an underrated point guard, Deivdas Dulkys, who memorably torched UNC once from three point range, and Xavier Gibson, a solid big man.

Also on that team: Okaro White and Ian Miller, now seniors.

Also seniors: Kiel Turpin, son of Mel, and Robert Gilchrist (Turpin is out with an injury).

There's no way around this. Hamilton has an absolutely huge team.

Boris Bojanovsky is 7-3. Michael Ojo is 7-1, weighs 290, and has the body fat of a sprinter. Keil Turpin is 7-0. Robert Gilchrist, Jarquez Smith and Okaro White are all 6-9.

That's basically half the roster 6-9 or taller.

Of course minutes is a different thing.

White is getting the most at 29.3 per game and averaging 12.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg.

The next four players are normal sized - Aaron Thomas (6-5), Montay Brandon (6-7), Charlotte's Ian Miller (6-3) and Alaskan Devon Bookert (6-3).

Boris Bojanovsky and Robert Gilchrist start and pull 19.4 and 17.7 minutes. Ojo gets out of the Big Blue House (we know some of you Crazies watched it, don't deny it) for 13.2 mpg.

So what has Hamilton done with this team?

So far, FSU's barely lost to Michigan and Florida, lost to Minnesota and the Prince's pressing Gophers, and twice to Virginia.

Along the way the Nole's beat VCU senseless, stomped Charlotte, and knocked off a ranked UMass team by five.

Florida State is 13-5 but just three points from being 15-3. That's three points from being right there with Iowa, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Ohio State and ahead of Kentucky.

In case you hadn't put all this together yet, Duke is significantly challenged inside, where only Marshall Plumlee is the size of FSU's raft of behemoths.

Yet Duke isn't that different, size-wise anyway, from Virginia, and the Cavs have owned FSU this year.

Only Mike Tobey is over 6-8, so, clearly,  size wasn't everything.

So what happened?

Well a couple of things spring to mind: in the first game, FSU had 13 first-half turnovers and 16 for the game; in the rematch, 18.

In the first game, the Cavs just picked FSU's pockets and converted the turnovers to a 30-17 halftime lead.

In the second game, Virginia went on a 22-5 run in the first half.

Remember that Joe Harris sustained a concussion in the first game.

Virginia plays a very different defense than does Duke, and the goal of the packline is to, well, pack it in and make movement difficult.

It's going to be tough to defend Bojanovksy and Ojo, not to mention White and Gilchrist.

Yet neither of the two young big men are polished performers.

Ojo is huge but very raw. He still has a lot to learn. Bojanovsky is 7-3 but slender, and is still gawky. He hasn't learned to take full advantage of his height on offense. He looks like an overgrown teenager - until you shoot near him. He has solid instincts as a shotblocker and he really gets his share.

Incidentally, Miller had 11 turnovers in the two games.

Miller and White are FSU's best offensive performers, but Hamilton usually brings them off the bench.  Bookert and Brandon usually start in the backcourt.

As usual, as the Virginia games show, Florida State struggles with turnovers. The season leaders here are Miller with 53, Thomas with 42, Bookert with 35 and White with 32.

Duke may have an advantage with the trey. FSU's best shooters are Miller at 43.8%, Devon Bookert at 39.6% and Gilchrist at 37.5%.

One thing to keep in mind. That Snaer jumper to pick off Duke in 2012? He hit it over Andre Dawkins, then in the depths of his personal hell.

Now healthy, in excellent shape and a better defender, it won't surprise us if Dawkins plays a major role in this game. But what's even more intriguing to us is the tremendous uptick in Rasheed Sulaimon's game. He's not just playing much better; he's playing with a tremendous positive arrogance.

It can cut both ways, of course. You can be an arrogant jerk or you can simply play with supreme confidence. That's where Sulaimon is now. In the last few games, he's toyed with his defenders. He's playing brilliant basketball.