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Duke Basketball: Keys for the Blue Devils to Advance to Sweet 16

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 15:  Ryan Kelly #34 celebates his basket with a foul along with teammates Mason Plumlee #5 and Rasheed Sulaimon #14 of the Duke Blue Devils in the second half against the Maryland Terrapins during the quarterfinals of the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on March 15, 2013 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Kyle NewportFeatured Columnist IVJune 12, 2016

The Duke Blue Devils are looking to get back to the Sweet 16, but they will need to do a few things in order to get past Creighton.

Duke is 28-5 for a reason.

The Blue Devils are extremely talented and are nearly unbeatable when Ryan Kelly is in the lineup. A loss to Maryland in the ACC tournament has been the only time Duke has lost this season when Kelly has played.

After a grueling schedule this season, it seems like Duke should get past Creighton with ease in the round of 32. The Bluejays were eliminated by the North Carolina Tar Heels in this same round a season ago, so they've been here before.

With all of the upsets that have taken place so far in this tournament, though, the Blue Devils need to be careful. 

Here are the keys for Duke to advance to the Sweet 16.

 

Hit Threes

In last year's loss to Lehigh, Duke shot only 23 percent from three-point range. This team has three guys—Kelly, Seth Curry and Quinn Cook—who are shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc this season. The Blue Devils are shooting 40.5 percent from three as a team.

Duke has shot below 32 percent from three-point range in all five of its losses this season.

The Blue Devils made only four three-pointers in their first game of the tournament, but it will take more than that to knock off the Bluejays. This game has the makings of a shootout, so the Blue Devils can't afford to go cold from deep.

If Curry can get on one of streaks where he can't miss, the Blue Devils will be tough to beat. They can spread Creighton out with so many different options on the perimeter. 

 

Contain Doug McDermott

It won't be an easy task, but the Blue Devils need to find some way to keep him from dropping 30 points or more. 

McDermott can do it all.

He has shot above 50 percent from the floor in every season since his freshman year (2010-11), and he is shooting nearly 50 percent from three-point range this season. The forward is also averaging over seven rebounds per game. 

Duke has the size down low with Kelly and Mason Plumlee to limit McDermott on the boards, but it will need to find some way to keep him from catching fire on offense.

McDermott is coming off a double-double against the Cincinnati Bearcats, and he is ready to try to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time. 

Creighton leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 50.8 percent, and McDermott is one of the main reasons why they are so efficient. 

The Bluejays have other players who can score, but the offense will struggle if McDermott can't get going early. It's not realistic to think that he won't get 15 points, but the Blue Devils need to find a way to limit his scoring.

 

All stats are from ESPN.com.


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