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NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballDuke Blue DevilsPittsburgh Panthers

5 Keys In Duke Blue Devils vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Matchup

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5 Keys to Duke vs. Pittsburgh

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Duke basketball had some problems not too long ago, but it now seems the Blue Devils are back on track. Duke's Jabari Parker is getting his points again and is becoming a phenomenal rebounder. He just posted back-to-back double-doubles where he grabbed at least 14 boards. Not to be outdone is Rodney Hood. Hood is the dynamic scorer coach Mike Krzyzewski needed to alleviate stress from Parker.

Duke is now 5-2 in the ACC and has big week ahead with Pitt and Syracuse looming.

Pittsburgh, it can be argued, is the most impressive team in the ACC this season. The Panthers' lone loss really could have been a victory if one or two shots down the stretch had fallen against Syracuse. Since, coach Jamie Dixon's team has picked up two solid wins with a thrashing of Clemson at home and a hard-fought road win in College Park against Maryland.

Lamar Patterson is a silky-smooth wing and is complimented with the great play of Talib Zanna in the post. Patterson tallied 28 points against the Terps and is the go-to player Pittsburgh has been lacking over the years.

Syracuse is still undefeated, despite some close calls, and remains the front runner for the regular season conference crown.

When Pittsburgh hosts Duke on Monday, a lot more than just another victory will be on the line. Pittsburgh could remain only one game back of the Orange with a good chunk of the season still remaining, and Duke could stay within shooting distance of catching up to the leaders. If Duke loses, it could be out of the championship conversation. If Pitt loses, climbing the ladder to Syracuse will be much tougher.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. The Zoo's Impact

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While the Petersen Events Center does not get the recognition as the home crowd advantage that Cameron Indoor Stadium does, it is as tough to play in as nearly any home floor in the country. The Zoo could be a huge factor if the noise gets into the Blue Devils' heads. The crowd will be fired up and should give the Panthers a big boost early.

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4. Talib Zanna's Post Presence

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Talib Zanna has turned into an extremely efficient player in the post for Pittsburgh. He does not have to take difficult shots because his footwork places him in great position. He is also a solid defender and because Duke does not have any great post player in the paint, he could, and should, put up big numbers.

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3. Which Jabari Parker Shows Up

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Jabari Parker has already looked like the best player at times, and has also been benched. Parker has played better as of late, but still shot poorly against Florida State Saturday. Parker is a star, but he also needs to stay within the flow of the offense and not shoot the Blue Devils out of games.

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2. Lamar Patterson Needs To Be Selfish

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Patterson is one if the best all-around talents in the country, yet he hardly is talked about nationally. This could be the game that finally gets his name in neon lights. Patterson is averaging 18 points, five assists and five rebounds. He is also a disruptive defender.

Patterson could be the star of this matchup.

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1. Which Team's Style Dominates

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh is way more offensively-minded than previous years, but their defense and pace will be the key to picking up this ACC victory.

Duke is way more of a finesse team this season and their offense is based significantly on pace and flow. If the Blue Devils can pick up speed and get running, they could walk out with a great road win.