Duke Blue Devils: Can Duke Sting Yellow Jackets in ACC Opener?

Curtis ClontzCorrespondent IIJanuary 6, 2012

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 23:  Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates after a dunk on their way to a 78-61 victory over the Temple Owls at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 23, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Duke Blue Devils are the team that people love to hate.  After the Temple upset earlier in the week, the haterade was flowing as many began proclaiming that Duke is done.  Saturday they will try to debunk these “myths” by winning their first true road game of the season. At this point they are 0-2 losing both to Temple and Ohio State.  While losing two games at this point in a season isn’t a big deal, for Duke it causes concern.

If there was a team that Duke could hand pick to open ACC play on the road, it certainly has to be Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets are doomed to be an ACC cellar-dwellar as they are currently 7-7 and have lost three straight.  Someone has to join Boston College at the bottom, and this season it will be Tech.

This season Tech is lead by Glen Rice Jr. whose season high of 23 happened more than a month ago.  Leading your team in scoring is typically a good thing, but Rice has scored less than 12 points in more than half of Tech’s games.  This is part is where Tech’s troubles start.  They can’t score points.  Tech is currently ranked 257th in the country in points per game.  Not a number that anyone hoping to compete in the ACC hopes to put up.  Compliment that with a suspect defense and your team is pretty much terrible.  Thus, Georgia Tech is pretty much terrible.

Duke’s toughness, leadership and character have all been questioned over the past few days.  Coach K even said if he knew how bad the game against Temple would have been, that he would have “faked an illness”.  While faking a seizure isn’t the best way to get out of your homework or a flogging by an unranked team, without K the loss would have been worse.

Against Tech, Duke will likely attempt to tinker a bit more.  Duke teams are always evolving from day one.  K is known for changing lineups just as much as Dickie V changes ties.  Against Tech, K and his cast of coaches will be able to use the weaker team to attempt to find the perfect combination of players.

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 18:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils calls a play against the Davidson Wildcats during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 18, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

At this point I am inclined to think that the lineup of Cook, Rivers, Curry, Dawkins and Plumlee.  Yes, I understand that this makes Duke very small.  More to come on this in a later article, but that is exactly what I think Duke needs to do to step up play.

Prediction:  The Devils may have been embarrassed in Philly earlier in the week, but it won’t happen in Georgia.  I know that a lot of people expect Duke to come out on fire in attempt to prove that they are “hungry”, but I think they will start of slow.  We all know that Duke struggles on the road this season and although K will have his guys ready, they will not start out on fire.  In the end this will be a drudging with Duke winning by at least 20.  They will not cover the spread but will get solid contributions from Cook, Rivers and Curry.

Duke by a count of 83-64.