The game of the non-conference schedule for Minnesota is an opportunity to knock of the #5 team in the country. This will be the third all-time meeting between Duke and Minnesota, the last one was in March of 1989. It was an 87-70 Minnesota loss in the Sweet 16.
Game Time: 2:30 CST
TV: AXS.tv (DirecTV channel 340, Dish 131 and Comcast 897)
Radio: AM 1500 ESPN
||Pnt/Gm||Pnt/Gm||#5 Duke (3-0)
Man am I excited for this match-up, I'm particularly excited to see a combination of Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe guarding Mason Plumlee.
Duke has a huge win over Kentucky this year and has their sights set on another Final Four run. This team is very balanced with a really nice inside-outside combo of Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee. They are currently #5 in the country and likely the best team in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.
But can the Gophers not only play with, but beat the Blue Devils? I am a total rube, but I think that yes they can. If you look at the stats of this early season, this game is within reach. KenPom predicts a Duke win with 51% certainty. 51% is not a very convincing number. Duke is incredibly efficient offensively but the Gophers are playing outstanding D, and they rebound really (really) well. So how are we going to win this one?
First of all we need to continue to play great defense. I am hoping that Duke isn't aware of what is going to hit them. Make every single possession difficult, bump and hit them at every legal opportunity. We have some pretty good defenders and how we defend Curry and Plumlee will be a lot of fun to watch. Duke averages 1.16 points per possession, we hold teams to .871 points per possession...one of these things has to give.
Secondly I think we need to hit our open threes. Duke gives up over 40% from three and we need to hit an open opportunities. Andre, Austin, Welch and Oto need to hit a few threes.
Lastly, we cannot get caught jersey watching. This is Duke, but we are a good team too. Don't get caught up being in awe of Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. Duke is a good team, but we need to be physical with them and play our brand of basketball.
We have a recent history of knocking off highly ranked opponents in November (or early December), in fact that is part of the reason Tubby Smith earned Turkey of the Year. Ask Rick Pitino and Roy Williams if Tubby Smith is capable knocking off a really good team. Let's do it again!