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Next Up For Duke Basketball - Utah State Aggies

It might look easy but we don't think it will be.

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Nov 25, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) drives past Yale Bulldogs guard Makai Mason (11) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Nov 25, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) drives past Yale Bulldogs guard Makai Mason (11) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

We've talked recently about how some schools, despite not having a profile like those of Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Indiana or Kansas, nonetheless see themselves as serious basketball schools and are therefore not scared to take on major powers.

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We need to look no further than Northern Iowa, a team which recently victimized UNC.

But there are many others. Dayton, Butler - which has broken through to a higher level as has Xavier - Detroit, St. Mary's, Charleston, Wyoming, Ball State, Miami of Ohio, Evansville, New Mexico State - these are all places where fans expect, and usually get, a high level of play.

To that list you can add just about every school in Utah.

Go down the list: Utah, check. BYU, check. Weber State, check.

And certainly Utah State.

You can believe this: nothing in Cameron is going to be unusual or will scare the Aggies. They play in a very similar environment.

The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum is a great basketball environment.

Not good, great.

It's very similar to Cameron, with passionate students (theHurd), coordinated cheers and taunts and fans who become stars.

Duke has Crazy Towel Guy; the Aggies have Wild Bill, who makes distracting foul shooters an art.

Gregg Marshall was certainly impressed, saying that "Utah State has 4000 student tickets and they make some type of impression on the visiting team and it's just a party. It is one heck of a party. It's the best I've ever seen. In many, many years I've been at Duke and Kentucky and UConn and Syracuse and it's clearly the best I've ever seen in terms of atmosphere."

Crazies, consider yourselves challenged. Getting to the Aggies won't be easy.

Stew Morrill retired last year and over his last 11years, Utah State had a better winning percentage than everyone but Duke, Kansas and Gonzaga.

His replacement? Former assistant Tim Duryea. So far he's undefeated.

However, Utah State has had some issues during the transition. The Aggies lost to Cal State Monterey Bay in exhibition season. There was also a fight in practice that led to one of Duryea's best players, David Collette, to quit the team. He wants to transfer but Duryea has blocked it.

Chris Smith (6-4), a senior, is averaging 16.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg.

Jalen Moore (6-8), a junior, is next  up at 13.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg.

Lew Evans (6-8) also a junior, checks in with 11.8 ppg and 5.8  boards.

Shane Rector is the primary distributor, averaging 3.8 apg.

The Aggies are definitely excited about this game, but Duryea told the Salt Lake Tribune that the key is to rebound.

"The main thing is we have to rebound with them. We have confidence we can play with them — that we can guard them and that we can make them guard us. But the main thing is rebounding. [With] all their big guys, we'll have to put some bodies on them and rebound because, if we don't, it will be a long game."

Duke does have more size than Utah State, but matchup problems go both ways. We'll see how that pans out.

The Aggies have seen the tape of the Yale game and they saw that Duke was vulnerable on screens and backdoor plays. They've also no doubt seen that Grayson Allen is capable of playing at a phenomenally high level.

But if Duryea is correct, then Duke's key players in this game will be Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson. Both are capable of double-figure rebounds. And it might also be a good game for Chase Jeter to get some more experience. As we said, matchups go both ways and for a big guy like Plumlee, chasing a smaller player around can at times mean a long afternoon.

Duryea may well be right about the big men, but a lot will also depend on how well Duke defends. Like Yale, Utah State has a lot of experience, far more than Duke. The Blue Devils will have to find ways to compensate. That may mean more zone or it may mean different guys getting more time.

Whatever the solution is though, Duke is playing an opponent which will probably not be intimidated by Cameron and which expects to win. It's going to take a serious effort by the Blue Devils.