The Duke Blue Devils are gearing up to take on the Albany Great Danes in a Friday-afternoon showdown between two teams on opposite ends of the NCAA tournament spectrum.
As a No. 2 seed, Duke is expected to compete for a national title in 2013, while No. 15-seeded Albany is regarded as nothing more than a road block for the Blue Devils on their way through the Midwest region.
However, that line of thinking can be dangerous—especially when the players themselves believe it. After the Lehigh Mountain Hawks eliminated the Blue Devils in the Round of 64 in 2012, Duke learned the hard way not to underestimate a No. 15 seed.
If coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad is going to avoid another heartbreak, here are three players that will need to step up for a win in the second round.
This senior forward has been an instrumental part of Duke’s success during the 2012-13 campaign, averaging a whopping 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steal during that span.
Plumlee is an all-around star that does not need plays to be called for him in order to find success, as he hustles hard on every possession, plays great defense, finds a way to get his team second-chance opportunities and much more.
Considering the Great Danes do not have much of a low-post presence, we expect to see Plumlee receiving plenty of entry passes and alley-oops in the paint. At 6’10”, 235 pounds, this young man has the sheer size to dominate Albany by himself.
Don’t be surprised when Plumlee finishes this game by leading Duke to a huge win and scores at least 25 points and grabs 10-plus rebounds.
While Curry is known as an offensive dynamo, having averaged 17 points per game during the 2012-13 season, his biggest challenge in Friday’s game will be shutting down Mike Black.
The Great Danes guard is the best player on the team and is a constant threat to get a bucket, having put up 14.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. While he’s not on C.J. McCollum’s level (the player that destroyed Duke last year), Black has to be neutralized for the Blue Devils to comfortably walk away as winners.
Watching the two senior scorers go at one another will be the highlight of this contest, but we expect Curry will come out ahead in the end.
Duke has only lost a single game with Kelly in the lineup this season. He’s a huge asset to the team for his long-range shooting ability coupled with great size and above-average rebounding skills.
Which team will win?
The 6’10” senior is capable of absolutely going off, having scored 36 points on 10-of-14 shooting (7-of-9 from three-point land) and grabbing seven boards in his triumphant return after sitting 13 games with a foot injury.
If he’s able to put together those kinds of performances during the NCAA tournament, Duke is going to be one of the toughest opponents to oust in this thing.
Albany doesn’t have the right personnel to defend Kelly, so it’s not a stretch to think he will build momentum and find his range against the Great Danes.
Follow all the exciting NCAA Tournament action with March Madness Live