Why Duke Can Go All the Way:
Duke can go all the way this year because of the three scoring options it has, 3 of the top 5 scorers in the ACC are starting for Duke, and there is rarely a game where all three (Smith, Scheyer and Singler) are all shut-down. Dependable scoring options are something we have lacked. Also not to be overlooked is the experience factor, 2 juniors and a Senior are leading this team in scoring and Duke starts 3 seniors and 2 juniors. Itâ€™s a luxury not many teams have and Duke has used it to its advantage this season.
Duke can go all the way because Brian Zoubek is playing like a 7 footer. Zoubs is clearing out space in the middle, recycling possessions, setting screens, rebounding and passing to open shooters from the post. A rebounding presence has been sorely lacking from the Duke arsenal for quite a while. This will offset bad shooting nights by the big 3.
Duke can go all the way because unlike years past this team has remained injury free (knock on wood). Continuity is key, and being able to keep a lineup together for the better part of the season is a very good thing. Chemistry and communication will serve this team well in March as it has for most of the season. Aside from the occasional bump and bruise the only serious injury has been Kyle Singlers wrist which he played through, Lance Thomasâ€™ bone bruised knee (he also missed no time), and Mason Plumlees wrist which was an early season injury. Which may have stunted his growth this year a bit but with the high level that Zoubs is playing at, it hasnâ€™t hurt Duke as of yet.
Why Duke Can’t Go All the Way:
The reason why Duke cannot go all the way is the staggering number of minutes that Singler, Scheyer and Smith Play. All three do great things on the court, all three are in tremendous shape. Everyone wears down, those jumpers are going to stop falling even more so than they have already. Teams are going to over substitute and bring in fresh bodies off of the bench to try and wear down a team that does not have the luxury of subbing out itâ€™s guards.
The reason this team cannot go all the way is probably one of its greatest strengths, the 3 point shot. Duke in recent years has seen that shot go in less and less in the tourney. With tired legs (the big 3 play nearly every minute of every game) and no discernible inside scorer Duke will have to work harder for its shots than any team in the tourney. Duke has a few games left to find that consistent inside presence. Mason Plumlee, Miles Plumlee and Brian Zoubek are going to have to maximize their time on the court, play defense without fouling and contribute a few buckets to the cause. With a legitimate scoring option in the middle Duke becomes a very dangerous team. When depending on outside shots and the long ball, Duke becomes very beatable and predictable. Not matter how open those 3 pointers are, a layup or dunk is a much higher percentage shots. Duke is going to be tired, there is no doubt about it and the less energy the big 3 have to expend on the offensive end the better. They need to find easy ways to score.
The reason why Duke cannot go all the way is the bench production.Â With a bench full of freshmen and sophomores who havenâ€™t shown they are quite ready for prime time, Duke is having to depend completely on the scoring of Smith, Scheyer and Singler. While having 3 scoring options is much better than in previous years. All three are primarily perimeter players and Duke needs a variance in the way that they acquire points. The bench is not pulling its weight and spelling the starters, Duke needs to be able to substitute without losing itâ€™s edge.