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Next Up - Miami

And the Hurricanes are legit

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 07 Duke at Boston College
CHESTNUT HILL, MA - JANUARY 07: Duke Blue Devils guard Tyrese Proctor (5) with the ball during the college basketball game between Duke Blue Devils and Boston College Eagles on January 7, 2023, at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA.
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Time 12:00 PM || Date 3/21 || Venue Cameron Indoor Stadium || Video ESPN

Update - Jaylen Blakes has broken his nose, but will play Saturday with a mask. Jeremy Roach is a game-time decision.

Next up for Duke is Miami, and as we’ve seen since last spring, Miami has become a load.

The Hurricanes are currently #17 nationally and tied for second in the ACC.

As we’ve seen so often with Jim Larranaga, the ‘Canes have an outstanding backcourt.

Isaiah Wong is back and the 6-4 junior is having a solid year. He leads Miami with 16.7 ppg and also leads in assists with 3.8 per game. Jordan Miller, now a 6-7 senior, is putting up 14.8 ppg and grabbing five boards per outing. And transfer Nijel Pack is getting 11.6 ppg.

Somewhat surprisingly, Miami isn’t a great three point shooting team. clocking in at 33.7 percent. Bensley Joseph is hitting 50 percent but he’s only averaging 5.8 points. Pack is hitting a respectable 37.4 percent and Wong 34.1. Miller is not far behind at 32.7 percent.

The biggest surprise though is probably Norchad Omier, who transferred in from Arkansas State.

At 6-7 and just about 250, he’s a bit undersized but that hasn’t stopped him from playing at a very high level, and Larranaga has always found guys who were just a bit off the ideal and made them into really productive players. He kind of specialized in this at George Mason.

Omier is averaging 14 ppg and 10.2 boards and he’s shooting 61.6 percent. Obviously he’s an inside guy, but he's just 6-7. Clearly he’s fitting in.

Wooga Poplar, a 6-5 sophomore from Philly and one of the great name in college basketball, is getting 7.4 ppg and 2.7 boards.

Harlond Beverly, who missed most of last season with a back injury, seems to be getting his groove back.

Anthony Walker. a 6-9 junior, and AJ Casey, a 6-9 freshman, round out the rotation.

So what does Duke need to do to beat Miami?

Well first of all, minimize turnovers. Miami is getting about 7.5 steals per game and Duke is averaging 13.7 turnovers per game.

Keeping Miami out of transition is a must, and also easier said. If Duke can force them into slower pace, it’ll hurt them.

Second, the Blue Devils need to control the boards and pound Miami inside. It’ll be hard to control Kyle Filipowski, Ryan Young and Dereck Lively inside.

But it’ll be easier for Miami if those guys get in foul trouble.

Young is pretty smart about that, like he is about most things, but Lively has shown a propensity to get in trouble and against Clemson, we think that Filipowski picked up three fouls when he lowered his shoulder to drive. It would have been nice to have those back later.

He also still has this tendency to spin into traffic which has been disastrous at times because smaller, quicker guards and forwards just pick him clean when he does it.

He probably needs to simplify his game in the short term. He’s been magnificent otherwise.

Dariq Whitehead is gradually getting his game back. We’ve seen some amazing things from him, albeit intermittently. He had a beautiful drive at Clemson and he’s as quick as anyone. And obviously he can hit the three. We’d love to see a breakthrough game here and he’s possibly the best defender for Miller.

We’ve also been impressed with the sudden maturation of Tyrese Proctor. Not long ago, he went to the bench for a couple of games and since then, he’s been much more aggressive and certainly much tougher. He’s really stepped up since Jeremy Roach went out.

Miami also has to deal with the rangy Mark Mitchell. He’s shown that he can drive on anyone and that he can shoot as well. He’s a different sort of player and could have a big game against Miami, who might have trouble defending him one-on-one.

Jaylen Blakes could have a big impact too, especially on defense. He’s shown that he can be one of the better defenders in the ACC and if he takes one of Miami’s perimeter players out, Duke’s odds go up.

And don’t overlook Jacob Grandison. He’s brought a calm to the team when it needed a steady, experienced player to step up. His back-to-back steals against Pitt may not be remembered by everyone, but you can be sure the coaching staff noted.

Superficially, this game will be about Miami’s outstanding perimeter play and transition game vs. Duke’s size and power, but it’s going to be about more than that.

It’s going to be more about Duke growing up. If the young Devils can minimize mistakes and play with mental toughness, they can win this game. If they allow Miami to impose themselves and to push Duke around, it’ll be a long afternoon.

Alternatively, if they come out and play closer to their potential, Duke will do fine.

Of course, we haven’t heard anything yet about Roach’s availability. We’re not expecting it but you never know.

We’ll add links as we find them.