Duke takes on Brown of the Ivy League in an early game Saturday - 11:30 and on ESPN2 - and while the Ivy League has been pretty impressive the last few years (more so than, say, the PAC-12), Brown hasn’t really been part of the renaissance.
Over the last three seasons Brown has had records of 13-17, 11-16 and 19-11 and this year is 5-5 so far.
That 5-5 mostly comes against the dregs of New England/Northeastern basketball: Bryant, Canisius, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, NJIT, UMass Lowell, Merrimack and Stony Brook. The exceptions are Navy and St. John’s, both double-digit losses.
Brown is also not a big team with just three guys over 6-7. Matt DeWolf is 6-9 and plays about 17 1⁄2 minutes. Jaylan Gainey, a native of Greensboro who is also 6-9 but just 190, and 6-8 Davis Franks, who weighs just 205.
On top of that, Duke is averaging 83.6 ppg and Brown has allowed 72.1 ppg against inferior competition.
Still, we can promise you that the magic phrase Stephen F. Austin has been mentioned quite a lot before the Brown game in an effort to underscore a basic program value: respect your opponent.
Brown has three players who are averaging double figures: 6-2 senior Zach Hunsaker (10.7 ppg), 6-5 junior Tamenang Choh (14.2 ppg/8.3 rpg) and 6-1 senior Brandon Anderson (an impressive 21 ppg and 3.8 apg).
Tre Jone is going to play after sitting out the last game with an ankle injury and between him and Jordan Goldwire, Anderson and Hunsaker will see a hand in their face (or more) most of the night. Wendell Moore and Jack White will probably get most of the minutes against Choh.
If SFA hadn’t done Duke a favor and humbled them at home earlier in the season, we’d say it might be possible that Brown could sneak up on the Blue Devils but we don’t think that’s possible now. If they beat Duke Saturday, they’ll have to do it while getting Duke’s best shot.
And they’ll also have to stop Vernon Carey. The Duke freshman has been superb so far and has been very difficult to control.
Brown will also have to contain Jones, Cassius Stanley and Matthew Hurt, all of whom have been explosive at times, and also Joey Baker, who has really come on lately.
They’ll also have to deal with Duke’s overall athleticism, defensive effort and the ghost of Stephen F. Austin.
Is it impossible? No, nothing is impossible, least of all in basketball. One guy can go off and change everyone’s expectations.
But it won’t be easy. Duke is heavily favored for a reason: the Blue Devils are very good.