To no one’s surprise, the Duke Blue Devils had their way with the Virginia Tech Hokies last night to cap an unbeaten season at Cameron Indoor Stadium. With one game left at North Carolina this Saturday before the ACC Tournament and then the NCAA Tournament, Duke is peaking at exactly the right time.
Duke’s starting five is among the best in the nation, and as the Hokies saw last night, any team that faces the Blue Devils will have trouble stopping them. Ryan Kelly‘s return to the lineup has been an enormous lift, and his presence alone will give defenses fits because they’ll need to guard him down low and from behind the three-point line, spreading them out more than they would like.
You can’t double-team Mason Plumlee down low anymore, so he’s going to be freed up to score more points and grab more rebounds, and you can’t double-team Kelly because one of Plumlee, Seth Curry, Quinn Cook or Rasheed Sulaimon will be left open as a result, so you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Making things worse for Duke’s opponents is that even when one of these starting five is off, as Sulaimon was in scoring just five points in 17 minutes of action last night, the others step up. Curry, Cook, Plumlee and Kelly all scored in double figures last night, with Curry’s 20 points and 5-of-9 shooting from behind the 3-point line leading the way.
So even when a team breathes a sigh of relief that Plumlee isn’t having such a hot night — he was only 4-of-10 from the field last night — they still have to worry about the rest of Duke’s starters.
The Hokies ran into a buzzsaw last night that’s still warming up. The rest of college basketball should be very afraid of the Blue Devils right now.