Duke 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview
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Duke Blue Devils - Atlantic Coast Conference (29-5, 13-3)
Seed: #1 - South Region
Big Wins: 1/3 Clemson (74-53), 1/23 at Clemson (60-47), 2/13 Maryland (77-56)
Bad Losses: 1/9 at Georgia Tech (67-71), 1/20 at NC State (74-88), 3/3 at Maryland (72-79)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, Sweet Sixteen loss to Villanova
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (71-22 in 25 NCAA appearances)
Probable Duke Starters:
Nolan Smith, Junior, Guard, 17.2 ppg, 2.9 apg
Jon Scheyer, Senior, Guard, 18.6 ppg, 5.0 apg, 1.6 spg
Kyle Singler, Junior, Forward, 17.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.4 apg
Lance Thomas, Senior, Forward, 4.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
Brian Zoubek, Senior, Center, 5.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg
Key Duke Roleplayers:
Andre Dawkins, Freshman, Guard, 5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg
Mason Plumlee, Freshman, Forward, 4.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Miles Plumlee, Sophomore, Forward, 5.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg
Why The Blue Devils Can Surprise:
Duke always expects big things, but have gone about it in a different way then their arch rival North Carolina. The Blue Devils rarely go after players who they think will bolt for the NBA after a year or two and that has led to a very experienced group that takes smart shots and plays smart basketball. It all starts with the emergence of Nolan Smith. Not only is he a great scorer averaging 17.2 points per game, but he is also a solid distributor who will find the big time scorers on the wing.
And the best scorer of them all is Jon Scheyer. While his shooting numbers are not spectacular, they are pretty darn good and Scheyer will confidently take the big shots. Scheyer is also a superb passer and will use his 6-5 frame to shoot over defenders and find passing lanes over smaller shooting guards. Kyle Singler is the dangerous weapon on the other wing. Singler is a productive outside shooter, but he does most of his scoring damage around the basket. At 6-8, Singler is very difficult to defend and his ability to hit the glass is very important on this team.
Why The Blue Devils Can Disappoint:
Smith, Scheyer and Singler all average over 34 minutes per game. Nobody else averages over 25. The frontcourt duo of Miles Plumlee and Lance Thomas is not very intimidating and their lack of experience and girth is where the Blue Devils can be beat. While Thomas is an athletic power forward who can play solid defense and Plumlee is occasionally a decent scorer, like when he put up 19 points against Wake Forest in January, the frontcourt is not much of a threat at either end of the floor. But that all changes on the glass where Plumlee grabs 5.0 per contest in less than 15 minutes per game.
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Who To Watch for Duke:
What makes the frontcourt more intriguing is the depth. Mason Plumlee, brother of Miles, is a decent shot blocker and can capably fill in off the bench in short spurts. And then there is 7-1 Brian Zoubek. It is his ability to hit the glass that makes the Blue Devils one of the best rebounding teams in the nation and with frontcourt depth like that, it makes up for any individual shortcomings. If one of the big guys can start scoring consistently, it will make it much more difficult for the opposition to defend the big time scorers on the perimeter.
Duke By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.2 (18th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.9 (40, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.3 (132, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.4 (51, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (42, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.9 (22, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 76.2 (7, 1)
Rebound Margin: 6.1 (18, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.3 (78, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (18, 2)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Sweet 16 loss to Texas A&M