#65 R.P.I. Virginia Tech vs. #4 R.P.I. Duke:
TV coverage: ~3:25pm ESPN
Vegas Line: Duke-7, O/U=133, $-Line: Duke-34o, VT+280
That was a close call men!
I am still not 100% dead to rights certain if that literal last-second tenth of a second shot had legally left the right-hand Index and Middle-finger tips of Derwin Kitchen or not? It was this damn close (think: Index mashing Thumb)! Love to see a close up on that release point as I remain unconvinced either way. IF you are a Seminole, welcome to Heart Break City, population you. IF you are a Hokie, “‘how about that”?!? Some good O&M luck finally caught up to good ole V.P.I. after E.Green nailed a straight butter memorable clutch shot from 18` on the left-hand wing to close an otherwise forgettable 2-13 shooting night … where:
MD-2o-2o continued to struggle in the clutch.
The A-train Jeff Allen was in foul-trouble and only played well for a 10 minute stretch in the second-half.
V.D., MD, and Jeff were all in major foul-trouble (four personals each).
VT shot 31%, got mugged on the glass (-12 rebounding margin), Seth only played 6 different Hokies and still freakin’ won? Raise your hand if you called all of that? Thought so. So how did VT win or literally steal on in the second-round of the 2011 A.C.C. men’s basketball tournament of play you ask?
700% more Steals and 200% more Turnovers.
Seems like someone mentioned that lifeline as F.S.U. was and still is turnover prone pre-game.
However, now we catch #5 nationally ranked Duke on 15, that’s fifteen hours of rest!
Here comes another one not for the faint of heart right down the ole O&M pike.
-Captain Kirk-Duke at a glance:
- 4th in scoring margin (+16.9)
- 9th in scoring (81.4)
- 10th opponents FT% (63.7)
- 20th in made 3-point FGA’s per game (8.2)
- 24th in turnover margin (+3.0)
- 87th in rebounding margin (Duke’s worst national ranking — +2.9)
(work-in-process Editorial Note firmly in place — I’ll be updating this as I do work, it will take a while to complete)
Is he first in the A.C.C. in points (21.1)? Check. Is he first in the A.C.C. in assists (5.1)? Check. Is he seventh in the A.C.C. in FT% (81.7%)? Check. Is he first in most FTA’s in the A.C.C. (197)? Check. Is he eighth in the A.C.C. in steals (41)? Check. And is he fifteenth in the A.C.C. in 3-point% (35.2%)? Check. Move over Malcolm Delaney we (likely) have a new A.C.C. Player of the Year? Sadly, check. I’d say that that’s a pretty fair to middling senior season campaign for Mr. Everything, one #2, 6`2“ 185 lb. Nolan Smith. Mr. Smith may or may not be a great N.B.A. level baller; though he does bring extreme post-season experience and big-time all-round game to any A.C.C. basketball court on which he plays. To put it another way, Mr. Smith starts for all 11 other A.C.C. teams and there are only a couple of other Atlantic Coast ballers who can rightfully make that claim in pure competitive intra-conference personnel terms. The only knock I could find is that Nolan has the second most turnovers in the A.C.C
However, will Mr. Smith play in this one? Check. Or (un)check as this one is a game time decision, although I can tell you the Duke media-release lists Mr. Smith as “probable” for this one. I personally expect Nolan will suck it up and try to give it a go and gut it out on 9 good toes.
Second in scoring is, well, was, #1, 6`2“ 180 lb. rookie (t-freshman) Kyrie Irving; such would be the best pure Point-Guard in his recruiting class, with a mega brio personality that gravitates leadership and attracts teammates despite his rookie in terms of raw age. Yup. Well, other than the small fact that he is sidelined indefinitely with a severely sprained giant-toe; and could possibly miss the rest of the season. Mr. Irving could also possibly be the brightest star in terms of raw talent on Coach K’s (Mike Krzyewski) 2010-2011 Roster. When you look at the pedigree and accomplishments’ of this years basketball squad that is indeed saying something; and that is indeed saying a whole helluva a lot. If this kid is this good right away; where is he by the time March of 2014 rolls around – presuming he does not turn Pro early? Kyrie is also second in assists (5.1), hits 53% from the floor, 45% from downtown and a whopping 90% on his FTA’s! Make no mistake about it; this kid could be Association ready right now and Kyrie is a major subtraction in backcourt terms for the Duke.
Second in rebounding (6.7), and now back up to second in scoring (17.5) and per se only forth in 3-point% (32.8%) would be 6`8“ 230 lb. senior Forward, #12, Kyle Singler. Kyle also makes his living at the FT stripe with 114 FTA’s already this season; and he is a fine offensive-rebounder with a nose for the ball with a whopping 82 offensive-boards already this campaign from a kid who does not seem all that springy when you look at him. All Kyle has done this season is maintaining his pace to finish his Duke career as only the forth baller in the entire history of the A.C.C. to go for over 2,400 career points and more than 1,000 career rebounds! Dang; think about all of the all-time A.C.C. big-names and then think about that.
First on the glass and the only real post-threat on the Duke roster in my book is one #5, sophomore 6`10“ 230 lb. PF Mason Plumlee. Mason has really come on this season and is starting to fulfill his stamp as the potential star of the Raleigh-Durham based Plumlee clan. Mason is posting a team-leading 8.8 boards and likewise team-leading 1.7 blocks to go along with 7.2 points down in the paint. Older brother (by one year) #21, junior season, Miles Plumlee is a 6`10“and slightly bulkier (240 lb.) role-player off of Coach K’s bench. Miles is a solid baller who gives you 5 points and 5 boards in frontcourt relief; despite receiving what can only be considered to be uneven playing-time this season. Also contributing down-low for the Dukie’s is #34 Ryan Kelly. Ryan is a 6`10“ 220 lb. sophomore who stayed home to ball at Duke. Ryan has added 15 lbs. of muscle to go along with his 6 points, 4 rebounds and 33.3% stroke from downtown. Not bad as a skillful modern era big-man goes; for the guy who won the McDonald’s All-American game 3-point shootout contest two years ago. Chipping in off the Duke frontcourt pine would be Commonwealth escapee, one #15, 6`6“ 210 lb. freshman year Swing, Josh Harrison of Fredricksburg, VA fame. Josh is still developing and his shot needs some D-1 work, though he prolly starts for Virginia Tech right now.
Helping out in the Duke backcourt would be the other legacy-Curry who got away. #30, 6`2“ 175 lb. sophomore and Liberty transfer Seth Curry is netting 9 points per game on a nifty and nepotistic 43.4% shooting from beyond the arc. Seth is another Dukie who although he is not the star for Coach K, likely starts for Coach Seth Greenberg. How good is Seth Curry you ask? Lindy’s magazine tabbed him as their A.C.C. Player of the Year sleeper pick pre-season! Seth has not quite lived up to all of that Human Genome Project hype at Duke after averaging a freshman best 20.2 points per game in 2009. Though the second-generation legacy-Curry has been starting since mid-January and he has accordingly upped his game since he started starting for the injured Mr. Irving and was playing much better coming into the A.C.C. tourney after going o-for in Blacksburg two weeks ago.
Also pitching in would be #20, 6`4“ 190 lb. sophomore back-up Pt.Guard Mr. Andre Dawkins. ‘dre has a rep as being a fine 3-point marksman and as being pretty heady seeing how he graduated High School a year early. Mr. Dawkins is also a Commonwealth refugee as he hails from Chesapeake Virginia. ‘dre gets you 9 points per game off the Duke bench on 43% shooting from 3-point land. Yet again; this is another kid who although a substitute at Duke likely starts at Tech. #3 Tyler Thornton is a 6` 185 lb. Washington D.C. native who logs reserve minutes for Coach K. Tyler is know to be a pass-first ball handling wiz’ who needs a little work on his shot; although he is a very useful and well regarded throwback version of a true-blue distribution oriented Point Guard.
As you can see, Duke has by my count at least three guys ridding their pine would could quite possibly start right now at Virginia Tech. U.N.C. may have more frontcourt star power; though you can make quite the cogent case that this 2010-2011 Duke basketball squad is the most talented team top to bottom in the entire A.C.C. right about now. Even the Duke scrubs –including former student-manager and gym-rat walk-on Rudy remix tape- Casey Peters; and the bulky back-up PF otherwise known as Todd Zafirovski … could play for someone else in the A.C.C. if they were only on a basketball team not named Duke.
Fourm-Guide, conclusion(s) and prediction:
Well, not an easy on to really wrap your mind around … is it? The way I see it we have three semi-congruent story-lines upon which to base a prediction upon, namely…
- N.Smith’s game-time decision of a Toe, 21 points and 5 dimes (assists) would be a major sit-down for Coach-K, I am positive that despite X-rays that were indeed negative, this is story-line can get Tech’s toe-in-the-door and thereby gives VT a chance to steal one if N.Smith can not go or is truly ineffectual.
- 15 hours. That’s not a whole lotta time between games, even less when you are playing the #5 nationally ranked team who has some upsetting O&M payback on their minds after what happened 14 days ago.
- Turnover margin, unlike F.S.U., Duke is notorious for taking care of the rock — this tells me that VT must manufacture another way to win; other than Seth’s longstanding pet-routine of getting extra possessions (and therefore extra O&M shots) off of winning the Turnover margin battle.
Both teams have cooled down on offense as the most recent 5-game trends go. However the one thing that stood out to me here was the fact that Duke is a stunning 17% superior at the FT-stripe than VT is. 81% vs. 64% is not just and advantage, it’s a flat-out gap. Someone said this yesterday, and they are saying it again, VT unconditionally must take care of their 15` set-shot business to have a shot to win in this one. Points will be tougher and tougher to come by during our third A.C.C. game in three days -much less on 15 hours rest- as this one wears on. FTA’s are a lifeline to rest as well, take your time getting to the FT-stripe and buy as much rest as you can if you are a Hokie.
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Our friend the Forum-Guide typically does not fare well in post-season basketball, due to total inability to account for rest or dead-legs factors or due to unfamiliarity with both teams — i.e. when they lack common opponents due to playing in different conference’s to begin with. I did however begin to crunch some Fourm-Guide numbers and they were large and in-charge indeed after only a few games. After only three contests the Fourm-Guide was calling for a 16 point Duke victory; and the gap was only widening after that. What is more important to me is that Coach K and Duke appear to have righted themselves after ending in a bedeviling 1-2 tail-spin with nationally televised L’s to VT and to arch-rival U.N.C. Duke appears to have shaken off some wobbly moments down the stretch as the VT L in particular seemed to rattle the Dukies at least a little bit. That said, Duke is indeed the better basketball team and this just in … rain is rumored to be wet.
Note that VT has not cracked 64 points scored in the last 18 days of O&M play. 59.2 points is what VT is averaging in VT’s last five games of running ball. So the question that you must ask yourself is … can VT win this one while apparently only scoring in the high-50’s? VT is averaging 55 points in the A.C.C. tourney thus far and I doubt that VT’s legs will suddenly be any fresher by the time ~3:25pm rolls around. Four of the Duke starters played 31 or more minutes yesterday (Friday) vs. Maryland. However, 9 Dukies got to play compared to only 6 Hokies. Even with the N.Smity toe-stub, Duke is the vastly deeper basketball team and this just in … rain is rumored to be wet.
To be candid, there is just not a whole lotta supporting evidence to collaborate picking VT to win this A.C.C. third-round game. And yet I know for a fact that MD-2o-2o and company do not like Duke, not one iota. Ergo I am hoping that VT can somehow summon enough raw O&M emotional dislike to keep this one semi-close, thereby remaining within contact of Coach K. and Duke; which gives Seth and company a long-shot at stealing this one late. Still yet, try as I might, I could not find a O&M peg to hang a upsetting OPT pick upon. Duke only shot 20% from beyond the arc and still put up 87 points on a decent enough Terrapin squad yesterday (Friday) night. That tells me that Duke is poise to open this one up late as O&M fatigue and what I unfortunately expect to be some whining and solicited calls begin to go Duke’s way as this one wears on. The A.C.C. suits get what they want most, Duke and Coach K in The A.C.C. finals as there is a big difference in playing Duke on +4 days worth of fresh legs, at home with ESPN Gameday in tow; compared to playing Duke on a neutral court on 15 hours and change worth of rest in our third game in three days.