Duke vs. Cornell: Previewing the Blue Devils' Matchup with Cornell

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIDecember 19, 2012

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 28:  Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after scoring a basket with teammate Ryan Kelly #34 during their game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 28, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After a break of 11 days since their last game, the Duke Blue Devils basketball team will take the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday to take on the Cornell Big Red.

In what should be a fairly easy matchup, the now-No. 1-ranked Blue Devils will look to win their 10th game in as many contests to hold onto the top position in the polls.

There will, however, still be some storylines to watch for in this game, the big one being the return of freshman Marshall Plumlee, who is expected to make his Duke debut on Wednesday night against Cornell.

The redshirt freshman who stands 7'0" tall will definitely help Duke down low, where rebounding has been the only real concern for this team early on.

Easing him into action against Cornell should also prove to be beneficial, considering they are 260th in the nation in scoring (63.9 points per game), 185th in rebounding (35.4 per game), 231st in assists (12 per game) and 302nd in field goal percentage (they shoot a paltry 39.4 percent from the field).

By comparison, Duke finds themselves top-50 in each of those categories with the exception of rebounding (where they rank 174th).

This brings me to the second key to watch for in Wednesday evening's matchup: rebounding.

The Blue Devils may rank 11 spots ahead of Cornell in rebounds per game, but that amounts to a difference of just 0.2 rebounds per game on average (albeit Duke has played a much more difficult schedule).

If Duke can dominate the glass against the Big Red, it would signal that they can out-rebound teams who have similar numbers to theirs, and that their play down low is improving.

Mason Plumlee can't shoulder the entire load all game. Ryan Kelly is going to have to be more aggressive on the glass.

As for Cornell's man to watch?

That'd be sophomore forward Shonn Miller, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding (10.2 points and 8.2 boards per game respectively).

While an upset is highly unlikely, the 6'7" forward from Euclid, Ohio, will almost surely be the only player that could give Duke fits.

Wednesday's matchup, though, is more about analyzing how the Blue Devils address some of their weaker points and taking in what could be Marshall Plumlee's first game.

Fans shouldn't be too worried about Cornell pulling off a road upset in this one.

Prediction: Duke 87, Cornell 50