At A Glance:
Duke: 13-1. AP: 5 ESPN: 5 BP: 5 RPI: 2 BPI: 8
Georgia Tech: 11-3. AP: 20 ESPN: 17 BP: 14 RPI: 68 BPI: 40
In the early 90s the Blue Devils featured an inner-city kid named Bobby Hurley who ran the offense like a well-oiled machine and stepped up in his senior year (17 ppg, 8.2 assists per game). In the early 10s the Blue Devils feature a suburban kid named Jon Scheyer who runs the offense like a well-oiled machine and has stepped up in his senior year (19.7 ppg, 6.1 apg). He has always been a solid defender and would surprise no one if he is named All-American at the end of the year. His counterpart, Nolan Smith, has exploded since Scheyer assumed the point-guard duties full-time, more than doubling his scoring output from his sophomore campaign. Third guard Andre Dawkins has seen less playing time in the past two games but has shown flashes of brilliance.
If Georgia Tech’s backcourt stays all four years they should be one of the best in the country. Mfon Udofia is working on his ballhandling and is really at his best when he’s shooting early and often. Iman Shumpert is shaking off the cobwebs after missing six games (he only shot one for seven in the Georgia loss). Swingman D’Andre Bell has focused more on defense while Glen Rice Jr.’s time has decreased.
Advantage: Duke. Georgia Tech would like to be where the Devils are now at this position.
Kyle Singler has done such fine movies as Firewall and A Knight’s Tale….oh, wait. That’s Paul Bettany. Forgive me, but while there’s an obvious physical resemblance between the two we’ll assume that Bettany can’t rebound or score inside like his American doppelganger. Singler has continued to annoy enemies in the grand tradition of Alarie, Laettner, Parks, McRoberts, etc. Besides Singler the rest of the Dukie frontcourt knows their roles. Brian Zoubek has (finally) become a competent center, Lance Thomas has embraced his role as defensive stopper and the Plumlees (Miles and Mason) combine to average a double-double in points and rebounds.
Gani Lawal has rebounded from a dismal three-game stretch to put fifty points in the last two outings. It could be because he wants to improve his flagging draft stock but the Jackets will take it. Strangely, Derrick Favors, who was considered a potential lottery pick, has dropped off recently. These two need to work together for the Jackets to have a chance. The most consistent performer has been “third wheel” Zack Peacock, who doesn’t get to the line often and should (89 percent).
Advantage: Duke. Again, the Jackets could take a lesson from their ACC foes.
At his current pace, Mike Krzyzewski should reach 1000 wins by 2016-2017. He still has the fire and joy for the game, so there’s no reason at this time to think he won’t do it. He almost doesn’t have to try to get All-Americans to come to play for him. Enough said.
Paul Hewitt could be in trouble. Since he made the final game in 2004 he has compiled a 88-78 record. This year’s team was hyped with the addition of Favors and the presence of Lawal. Their most recent loss to Georgia plus the home loss to Florida State won’t help. Basically, if the Jackets somehow flame out Hewitt’s seat will liquefy.
Advantage: Duke. Coach K’s a legend. Coach H is struggling.
When you look at the rankings there’s not a huge difference between these teams. That’s why friendly folks like me look deeper. In reality, there’s a big difference between these teams. Saturday, it will show on the floor and the scoreboard.
Duke 87, Georgia Tech 73.