Duke-Georgetown Preview: Blue Devils Look To Take Advantage of Size

Brad FrankCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2010

CHICAGO - JANUARY 06: Brian Zoubek #55 of the Duke Blue Devils looks to pass as LaRon Dendy #22 of the Iowa State Cyclones defends at the United Center on January 6, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Duke defeated Iowa State 86-65. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Tell me if you've heard this before. Duke's big men will be critical if the team wants to win this game.

Okay, you have heard that.

So tell me if you've heard this. Duke's big men will have a decided advantage against a quality opponent in Duke's next game.

No? Didn't think so.

Tomorrow we'll see a showdown of two of the Associated Press' top 10 teams, No. 8 Duke and No. 7 Georgetown. On paper the Blue Devils will have the size advantage over the Hoyas.

Duke has six guys in its rotation who are 6'8'' or taller, though some of the rotation has been seeing decreases in playing time while Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith log more minutes.

In fact, in Duke's last three games, Singler and Scheyer have played all but five of the possible 240 minutes.

Georgetown's starting center, 6'11'' sophomore Greg Monroe, is doing more with less this season on the interior for Georgetown. Monroe is currently averaging 10.1 rebounds per game, an increase of more than three boards per game over last season.

Only two other Hoya regulars, Henry Sims and Julian Vaughn, are 6'8'' or taller. They combine for essentially the same per-minute production that Monroe accomplishes by himself.

The visiting Blue Devils are entering the game coming off of two wins in conference play after suffering their third loss of the season to NC State. While the Hoyas have lost three of their last seven games after starting the season 11-1.

In my preview of last season's Duke-Georgetown game , I highlighted the free-throw battle as the biggest difference in the outcome of the game. Tomorrow's game probably won't be any different.

Duke is currently ranked second in the nation in free-throw percentage at 77 percent, while Georgetown ranks in the middle of the pack nationally at 126th with a rate of 70.3 percent.

Other statistical advantages for Duke include its three-point field goal defense and its huge advantage in turnover margin and turnovers per game. Georgetown, meanwhile, is better than Duke at avoiding foul trouble and creating turnovers from steals.

But like always, the outcome will largely hinge on which team executes better on offense and which team can force turnovers defensively. These statistics will give an indication of where each team can attack the other, but until the game is played, they're meaningless.

And not until we watch the game will we know truly how well each team matches with the other. Tomorrow's game will serve as an indication of the collective strength of each of the team's respective conferences.

The Big East has a lot of firepower at the top with a realistic shot at getting five teams in the Elite Eight. Teams in the ACC are failing to emerge as legitimate Final Four contenders, but the prevalence of parity may suggest that the conference is as deep as any in the country.

According to reports, President Obama will be attending the game.

Georgetown issued a press statement today asking fans to arrive 45 minutes early "due to the number of dignitaries expected to be in attendance, there will be enhanced security at the entrances to the arena."

Obama will be there to commemorate the partnership between Duke and Georgetown and their efforts to help with educating children in Darfur refugee camps.