#166 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #1 R.P.I. Duke:
TV coverage: 7pm, ESPU
Vegas line: VT+2o
$-line: Bet $90 on Duke to win $1, bet $1 on VT to win 37.5o
“Any port in a storm.”
-J. Cleland Memoirs of Woman of Pleasure II-
Roger that, as 9 in a row the ‘rong way was some Stormy Weather of Ethel Waters or Frank Sinatra fame indeed. Don’t believe me? Just ask this .667 Virginia Tech men’s hoops team over its last three games. I know, I know, the naysayers on here will have me believe that I am looking for a silver lining to a season that currently stands in at 3 games south of .5oo or 13 up and 16 down and 10 games back in 12th place in an Atlantic Coast race of 12.
Well, for a change; the critics are right.
You damn right I’m looking for a silver lining to what was such a promising start gone sour and all of this less two wins in our last three games away from being poised to endure a truly wait ‘tlll next year acerbic finish.
I’m also looking for the Duke basketball game to end A.S.A.P. or as soon as possible; take thy pick. Duke is not a favorable match-up and they are even bigger favorites inside of Cameron Stadium with the Kelly kid back in tow. However Wake Forest is not entirely unbeatable and we are catching Duke in the post Miami let-down trap game; and likewise in the textbook look-ahead trap-game with the Dukies set to visit arch-rival U.N.C. up next.
Duke at a glance:
- 4th in offensive 3-point shooting (41.4%)
- 7th in scoring offense (78.5 ppg)
- 12th fewest in Turnover Margin (+3.8)
- 13th in scoring margin (+13.4)
- 46th most assists per game (15)
N.B.A. pros=2 (M.Plumlee and Kelly)
Injuries=1, Ryan Kelly (F, 6`11“ 230 senior, play-making facilitating Forward, 13.4 ppg, 5.4 rebounds on 52% from downtown and 1.7 blocks, tremendous improvement/upside here) – READERS note: Kelly did return vs. Miami on Saturday night; though he had to leave the game yet again due to further foot ills
Mason Plumlee is the co-star of a three-headed monster that has now been reduced to halves sans Mr. Kelly. Mason is the middle Plumlee of a family that surely knows how to grow kids. 6`10“ 235 lbs. worth of senior year baller who scores a team leading 17.1 ppg while pulling down a simultaneously team-leading 10.3 boards on a team leading 59% from the field. That’s 59% after previously breaking his left-wrist. Get the picture? This kid leads and where this particular Plumlee leads Duke will follow. This from the kid who only won 3 Indiana state championships and was only the 10th ranked baller overall coming outta the Hoosier state before being named team Captain this year. That does not suck; neither does his Duke.edu efforting as Mason is an all-A.c.c. selection both on and off-court alike. Then there is the fact that Mason is a bit more athletic than most would give him credit for at first blush (ses: PIC); as you will note he is closing in on 200 career dunks and he tends to play above the rim. He is also on pace to finish with over 1,000 points and north of 1,000 rebounds. That’s what I call an all-round contributor who can handle his business at both ends of the court. In fact, if I had to name drop a kid who might beat out our very own Erick Green, for A.c.c. Player of the Year honors, you’d have to short-list Mason as he is in the top-5 in four different major A.c.c. categories (Points, Rebounds, FG%, and Blocks if you are keeping score at home.
Association pros=1 (Seth Curry. maybe Cook)
Seth Curry, is, related. And this just in, rain just called and said: “…I’m all wet.” And oh by the way; he’s pretty good just in case you missed it. 6`2“185 lbs. worth of what should have been O&M legacy senior year baller. Yes, Seth may be the lesser of the three hooping Curry’s; though he’s still prolly spicy enough to merit all-A.c.c. or no less than second-team at such. And guess what? He can shoot; 46% from range and 81% from the charity-stripe says so. All of that conspires to give Dell’s other son a 16.9 ppg average as a shooting-guard compacted into a point-guard’s body. Now mix in 2.3 boards, a steal, and a whole lotta big game experience and suddenly you have a very complete looking A.c.c. backcourter on your hands. Likewise his 19u gold-medal, likewise the fact that he was last in high school in 2008 –that all means that your have a lead-guard who is battle-tested and therefore battle-ready. Seth is a deceptive athlete with a very quick first step, and he has dabbled in the point position which allows him to swap-meet as needed in the Duke backcourt. Ditto his quick footwork and quick hands on defense which make this explosive scorer a more comprehensive player than his glossy looking offensive package would suggest.
Quinn Cook is a 6`1“ 175 lb. sophomoric point-guard from the District (of Columbia). 12.5 ppg, 3.5 boards and a team lading 5.4 assists is a pretty phat looking stat-line to me. Now mix in a likewise team leading 1.8 steals per game with 87% FT shooting and 42% from beyond the arc and suddenly you have an extremely complete player on your hands. You might very well have the best Pt.Guard in the whole A.c.c. on your hands as well. A 2.28:1 assist to turnover ratio is about as efficacious as it gets at the D-1 level these days; and his Team U.S.A. 17 and under gold medal is about as valuable as it gets in international terms. (said medal has a street value of $764). A 2011 McDonald’s All-America selection and only the 37th ranked kid outta high school who does not want for swag’ (or confidence). Cookie is a pass-first throwback point-guard who can create off the dribble for his teammates or for himself with either hand if need be. Something of a streaky shooter in the past, that now deploys a 3-ball that has improved a bit this year via some extra strength and conditioning work. Ditto his now healthy knee that he hurt (again) during the summer leagues right before his freshman year — all that from a kid with the toughs to postpone his knee surgery during his scholastic senior year just to finish the campaign.
The other Dukie backcourt is 6`4“ 185 lb. rook’ (rookie) Rasheed Sulaimon. Rasheed is the latest pure shooter to ink with Duke and you leave him open at your peril as his range can prove to be perilous indeed. Rasheed shoots 38.6% from 3-ponit land and as good as that is, he’s kinda/sorta the least great shooting Dukie backcourter this year; if you can believe that. In point of fact, it has been said that Rsaheed is the best pure shooter on the Duke campus since the days of J.J. Redick. This kids range is the gym … if he’s in it, he’s open. Rasheed is a H-town (Houston Texas) baller who spurred the Lonestar state to come ball at Duke where he puts up 12 ppg, with 3.3 boards and a couple of assists. Rasheed was merely the #1 overall shooting-guard in America coming outta Texas. He too already enjoys his very own gold medal and he too is another student-athlete who can score in terms of G.P.A. (3.56) and in terms of hoops (at twelve ppg).
Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston routinely come in off the Dukie pine; even if they could almost assuredly start in Blacksburg, Va. Ty is a 6`1“ 190 lb. junior year District of Columbia or quasi Commonwealth escapee. Ty’ took over the starting-point last season and was projected to continue in the same capacity this year; even if he subs in off the Duke bench at this stage of the twenty-thirteen campaign. Ty is a pesky hard-nosed on the ball defender who strength is found in his being physically strong, and his textbook footwork. Ty nets you 3.2 ppg and gets a couple of rebounds and assists alike off the Duke bench. He is also second in steals with 1.3 swipes to go with his serviceable range from the outside at 36.3% from distance. Ty is a crowd favorite and he is willing to burn the floor and do what it takes when it comes to sacrificing his body and taking one for the team. Josh is a 6`7“ 235 lb. slightly shorter power-forward with a chiseled physique. Josh gets you 2.8 ppg and 2.1 boards in relief off the Duke pine. Josh gives coach K an all-Virginia bench as he himself is from Fredericksburg, Va. Josh is a throwback baller who is not afraid of hard work. Josh is a vocal Energizer Bunny kinda guy who will work the offensive-glass as he has added size and strength every year down in Durham Carolina. A former Virginia high school Player of the Year as a junior who was the Maryland Player of the Year as a senior! This from the 33rd ranked player coming outta high school overall.
After that Duke gets a few spot minutes from Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. Alex is a bigger/stronger kid after r-shirting last year. The 6`8“ 22o lb. r-freshman is getting 2.4 ppg and 1.2 boards in only 7 minutes and change. Alex has a skill set that has been compared favorable to legacy Mike Dunleavy; and this after having to accept the r-shirt after taking a hard-fall or a spill so severe last preseason that he needed the entire year off. Such leaves my verdict out a bit on the 37th ranked high school recruit just two years ago. Marshall is a lot of things including being a Plumlee, the third one to ink with Duke I you are keeping nepotistic score at home. This Plumlee stands in a 6`11“ and weighs-in 225 lbs. after taking last year off in his own right. Marshall pulls down .7 boards and splashes home .2 ppg. Marshall runs the floor well, he aggressively attacks the post and he only won four state championships up in Indiana. The entire Plumlee family has played something somewhere at sometime or another; and reads like an honor roll of family tree success; props on that.
Conclusion(s), illation, OPT digits:
Don’t have anything in the way of my signature effusiveness for this one. Duke is a 20 point favorite on the Vegas big-board and there is a reason for that. Makes sense –if not cents- when you pause to consider that Duke just spanked us good and hard by 32 points, at home, sans Kelly; just a fortnight (less two days) ago. That does not posit aver or even suggest much confidence in this one, no matter how thick or myopic your O&M glasses may be.
Neither do the Home/Away splits which forecast a 28 point homesteading Duke blow-out. Nor the most recent 5 game trends which project a mere 18 point Duke beat-down win in Cameron. Now, do be clear, and do notice that that very 10 point margin also paints the picture of improvement that I’ve been harping about on-Air for the last 3-4 weeks. The signs of O&M betterment may be subtle though the signs are there. Coach K’s boys also score a lot at home, between 73 and 98 in their last four home-dates if you are keeping score, well, at home. Coach J’s boys tend to play a little better at a higher tempo as well and that’s what you have to expect on Tuesday night down in Durham.
Am I feeling froggy enough to predict a Virginia Tech upset victory? No, that’s a little too flip; even coming from me. However, methinks that Vah.Tech is catching Duke at the best possible time –sammwiched right in between top-ranked Miami and archrival U.N.C. That might blur Duke’s ability to fine-tune their in-conference focus for lowly Vee.Tee in this one just a scosche. Although Duke must win out in order to tie Miami for regular season first-place in the A.c.c standings, duke is perfect (15-o) at home whereas Virginia Tech is 20% out on the road; and at the end of the day there is that.
Virginia Tech=67, Duke=86