Duke regained the No. 1 ranking after losing it for only a week. Tonight they will play their first game as No. 1 looking to end their one-game losing streak with that top ranking.
Duke’s lone loss of the season and conference play came two games ago when it fell to North Carolina State. It was its first game without its center, Ryan Kelly. Kelly is out indefinitely due to a foot injury and is a key loss for the Blue Devils.
In fact, with Kelly not playing tonight, the Blue Devils will go down to the hands of Miami. Kelly just means to much to the Blue Devils and it has shown in the two games he has missed.
Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston have played well in his absence, but lack Kelly’s size, experience and ability to shoot from the outside.
The lack of size for Duke will allow for Miami’s Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble to lock down Mason Plumlee. Also look for Miami to dominate on the boards without Kelly in there for Duke.
Duke survived at home last week in a win over Georgie Tech who is not very good. If Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon didn’t combine to go 9-11 from three-point range, Duke could’ve had an embarrassing loss.
Curry and Sulaimon will need to shoot well from the outside again with Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton to knock down a couple open looks as well.
The Blue Devils’ guards will need to defend Shane Larkin and Durand Scott on the other end. Both of these guards can really score for the Hurricanes and can change the outcome of any game.
Duke will live and die by the three tonight and on the road, I feel they will die and fall to the Hurricanes and drop as the No. 1 team. Kelly just means to much to Duke who is 1-3 all time without him, including a loss to Lehigh in the NCAA tournament last year.
No. 1 will go down again for a third straight week.