Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
#5 Duke (20-4, 7-3 ACC) has lost three of their last five games, and that could become four of six if they don’t come up with a plan to slow down Boston College (18-8, 6-5) guard Tyrese Rice (17.4 ppg, 5.4 apg). Rice ranks seventh in the ACC in scoring and second in assists, and can explode for thirty or more on a moment’s notice. He isn’t as quick as North Carolina’s Ty Lawson, who gave the Blue Devils fits on Wednesday night, but he’s every bit the handful. However, Al Skinner’s team isn’t all about one player scoring with three other Eagles averaging double figures. His flex offense relies on versatile players who can perform at many positions on the floor, which would explain the success of forwards Joe Trapani (13.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg), Rakim Sanders (12.5 ppg) and Corey Raji (10-6 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
The Blue Devils (18th nationally) and Eagles (28th) are two of the more efficient offensive teams in the ACC according to Ken Pomeroy, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t bog down on occasion. When you lack an offensive threat on the low block, the end result (depending too much on perimeter shooting) can cost you in the way of fluidity. These two teams have taken the most three-pointers in the ACC, but they rank just fifth (BC) and seventh (Duke) in three-point percentage. Plenty of capable shooters will be on display at Conte Forum, but whichever team can balance that with drives to the basket will end up with the win.
Duke has been led in recent weeks by the trio of Gerald Henderson (who hasn’t failed to reach double figures since the win at Purdue), Kyle Singler (16.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and Jon Scheyer (13.3 ppg). However, a team that usually ranks among the ACC’s best in field goal percentage defense has allowed their last three opponents to shoot at least 46.7%. This is still one of the top defensive teams in America in regards to efficiency, ranking third in that category by Ken Pomeroy, but their last three opponents (Clemson, Miami and North Carolina) have been able to get to the basket and exploit the absence of an interior presence. The question for Boston College is whether or not they’ll be able to do the same, since they lack in that department as well.
The all-time series give a decisive edge to the visitors with Duke having won eight straight and nine of ten meetings, including three at Conte Forum. The Blue Devils are also the kind of team that you want to avoid following a loss due to their 7-1 record over the last two seasons in such situations. Boston College has dropped two straight (Wake Forest and Clemson), and they haven’t looked too good defensively in the process (ranking 159th in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy’s system). That’s where this game will be decided- Boston College’s defense. If they can defend and ride the emotion of a loud crowd the Eagles have a shot. But Duke rarely blinks in such situations; the extra scrutiny is just something that comes with putting on that jersey.
Winner: Duke Margin: 7-11 pts.
Editor's Early Preview
*Made on 02/06. Full preview by the GameNight staff coming soon!
Duke obviously has better overall talent, but no game in the ACC is ever a lock. Depending on what the spread ends up being, the Eagles might be my betting line favorites, but the Blue Devils prevail in the end.
Early Prediction: Duke