Game Time: 7:00 PM
Mike Krz Jon Scheyer (1st Season)
Current Record: 12-4 (3-2 in ACC) #24 in AP Poll
Last Game: 65-64 W @Boston College
Top Player: C Kyle Filipowski (13.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg)
As I mentioned in my opening ACC Christmas Gifts post, Duke could stand to get healthier this season. Their two top recruits, Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively, have both missed time and now junior point guard Jeremy Roach is expected to miss tonight’s game. Roach is the team’s second leading scorer (11.9 ppg), but has struggled with his shot (35.9% from field this season). Prior to missing Saturday’s game with BC, Roach was in the midst of a 5-25 stretch over his previous three games (Duke went 1-2 in that stretch). Replacing him in the starting lineup is Tyrese Proctor who himself had started the first 14 games before being replaced by Jaylen Blakes. If Duke runs the same starting lineup that they did on Saturday then Proctor is the shortest player at 6’5”. The downside to a team like Duke is that any time one of their players misses time, there is always an immensely talented player to take his place.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
- Rebounding - It seems silly to continue to mention rebounding, but Duke is averaging nearly 9 more rebounds per game than their opponents. It helps when you roster four seven-footers. Duke is 0-4 when they give up more than 31 rebounds to the opposition and 12-0 when they do not.
- Hostile environment - Pitt hasn’t won at Duke since 1979. Sam Clancy had 23 and 11 including the game-winning dunk in the final seconds in that one. Pitt has shown poise in road wins against NC State and Syracuse, but Duke is on another planet talent-wise compared to those two.
- Get Hinson going again - Blake Hinson has made some big shots in ACC play, but overall his shooting has dipped considerably (40.9% in ACC play, 47.3% for season). Getting him playing back to the level he was at in November and December is vital for Pitt’s tournament chances.
It seems silly to call this game a must-win since Pitt is 4-1 in the ACC right now, but there are not many more opportunities for Q1 and Q2 wins to boost their NET ranking. Currently, they have four more Q1 (including tonight) and one Q2. Pitt needs at least three from that group of five, especially considering it is not a guarantee they won’t add one or two more Q3 or Q4 losses to their profile. I think Pitt gets it done in another close one.