Miami Hurricanes (23-9) vs #7 Duke Blue Devils (27-5)
Friday, March 11th @ Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
How to Watch:
7:00 ET on ESPN
How to Bet:
Duke – 9.0, O/U 148.5 (Caesars, FanDuel) 149 (DraftKings)
Duke: 17-13-2 ATS, 2-1 ATS at a neutral site, 17-14-1 O/U
Miami: 17-15 ATS, 1-4 ATS at a neutral site, 19-13 O/U
- RPI: Duke is 16th in Division I (0.6169), Miami is 51st (0.5757)
- Strength of Schedule Rank: Duke (59th), Miami (64th)
- Strength of Record Rank: Duke (11th), Miami (32nd)
- Pace of play: Duke is 181st in possessions per game, Miami is 245th
What to Watch For:
This will be the second meeting between these two teams this season with the Hurricanes winning the first 76-74 behind 18 points from Charlie Moore. Both teams are coming into this game playing solid basketball, with Duke going 8-2 over their last ten while averaging 86.2 points on 51.8% shooting. Meanwhile, Miami has gone 7-3 over their last ten, averaging 75.2 points on an impressive 53.9% shooting, so this will be a tough test for both defenses.
On the season, Duke averages the 8th most points per game in the nation at 80.6 points per game. Much of that comes from inside the arc, as the Blue Devils rank just 153rd in three-point attempts per game despite being 24th in the nation in accuracy, connecting at a 37.6% clip. As with most of Coach K’s teams, this is a well-coached bunch that is 7th in the nation in assists per game and 21st in turnovers allowed, so they’re not going to give away the game.
We already talked about their field goal efficiency, so the only real weaknesses on this squad, which could hurt them in tournament games, are that they rank 126th in the nation in free-throw percentage and the 75.9 points per game they’ve allowed over their last ten games would rank 321st in the nation based on season-long averages.
Duke will need to get its defense back on track because this Miami team has been running hot of late and is 79th in the nation in points per game. We discussed that the Hurricanes play at a slower pace and also rank just 240th in three-pointers attempted per game and 99th in three-point accuracy, so this is an offense that prefers to attack the basket. They’re also incredibly efficient when they do, shooting 47.8% from the field on the season, which is good for 23rd in the nation. Just like their opponent, that efficiency also carries over into the way they value possession of the ball, ranking 8th in the nation with just 9.7 turnovers per game.
Duke is the more well-rounded and star-powered team, but this game could very well come down to which defense forces the opposing offense into uncharacteristic turnovers or poor shots. The team that holds most true to its efficient ways will have a major leg up, and if it’s a close game, the Hurricanes are the better free-throw shooting team, which can always become a factor come tournament time.
Mike Krzyzewski: 1,124-307 (.785) at Duke, 13 ACC Reg. Season titles, 15 NCAA appearances, 5 titles in 41 yrs
Jim Larranaga: 223-139 (.616) at Miami, 1 ACC Reg. Season title, 4 NCAA appearances in 10 yrs
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Why it Matters:
Well, for starters, it’s the ACC Conference Tournament semi-finals and both teams are vying for the automatic birth into the NCAA tournament by winning their next two games. The Blue Devils are already all but locked into a tournament bid, but ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Miami as one of the last four byes, which means they’re one of his final eight teams in the field. That leaves open a possibility for Miami to get bumped if there are any major upsets in these final rounds of the conference tournament. Even if Miami is feeling OK about its chances right now, a win over Duke would basically lock them into the field.
Players to Know:
Paolo Banchero, Duke Forward, Freshman
Per game stats: 16.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals
Banchero is certainly the name to watch in this game when it comes to future NBA prospects. The freshman is projected to be a top-five pick in this year’s NBA draft thanks to his tremendous athleticism and mobility for his 6’10” 250-pound frame. He creates his own shots rather easily and has good footwork in the paint, so his only weakness, if there is one, is that he’s not yet a knockdown shooter from outside.
Kameron McGusty, Miami Guard, Senior
Per game stats: 17.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals
McGusty tested the NBA waters after last season before opting to come back to Miami. He’s been one of Miami’s top scorers for the last two seasons and became a little more aggressive as a scorer this year. He’s also improved a fair amount as a three-point shooter but is still not incredibly consistent. Miami will need him to be hitting from deep to have a shot.
Wendell Moore Jr., Duke Guard/Forward, Junior
Per game stats: 13.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 40.9% 3PT
Moore is another potential first-round prospect for the Blue Devils. As you can see from the numbers above, he is a strong three-point shooter who profiles as a potential “three-and-D” player at the NBA level. His shot selection can be questionable at times, but he is a strong playmaker who can score inside and out but also set up his teammates for good looks as well.