Duke vs NC State for ACC supremacy

So far this year, it appears that there are two teams that are a level above the rest of the ACC (with some apologies to Miami, who can join these two if they keep playing as well as they are right now). These two teams will be meeting with first place on the line at high noon on Saturday at the PNC Arena. #20 NC State hosts top ranked Duke in a battle to see who is the first 3-0 team in the ACC. The Wolfpack will be gunning for their first 3-0 start in the conference since 1988-89.

Laura Keeley, the Duke beat writer for the N&O, wrote her game preview article. She has a section that details who has the edge at each position:

Quinn Cook (6-1, 175) vs. Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186)

Brown and Cook rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the ACC in assists per game, and both are coming off successful scoring games, as Brown dropped 21 on Georgia Tech, and Cook scored a career-high 27 against Clemson. Cook rarely turns the ball over (a 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio) and is an effective on-ball defender. Cook has also played well away from home, taking MVP honors at the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament as Duke beat VCU, Minnesota and Louisville. The latter two are both ranked in the top 10 and have only lost to Duke. Brown has struggled in the Wolfpack’s biggest games (Oklahoma State, Michigan).
Advantage: Duke

Seth Curry (6-2, 185) vs. Scott Wood (6-6, 169)
Curry has shown the type of scoring prowess he flashed last year against N.C. State (21 of his 26 points came as Duke erased that 20-point second half deficit) more often this season. Curry has topped 20 points in six of Duke’s games, including a Duke career-high 31 points against Santa Clara, which gave the Blue Devils all they could handle for the majority of the game. Curry has also developed more of a dribble-drive game and has shored up his defense. Wood is the ACC’s most prolific 3-pointer shooter, and the Wolfpack are 14-0 in the Mark Gottfried era when he hits at least four 3-pointers. Historically, Wood has not shot well against Duke—in four career games against the Blue Devils, Wood has shot 33 percent from the field. Against everyone else, he’s posted a 42.4 percent mark.
Advantage: Duke

Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 185) vs. Rodney Purvis (6-3, 195)
Offensively, the two have similar games and similar numbers, and that trend holds when looking at advance statistics, too. Both have delivered big games when their teams needed them—Sulaimon scored 17 second-half points in a comeback win over Ohio State, and Purvis scored a team-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting at Boston College. Sulaimon has a more developed defensive game (issues guarding Santa Clara’s Kevin Foster nonwithstanding), whereas N.C. State as a team, Purvis included, isn’t as sharp on that end of the floor.
Advantage: Duke

Josh Hairston (6-7, 240) vs. C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200)
The one clear mismatch in the game. Hairston is expected to start his first game of the season (and third of his career) in place of Ryan Kelly, who was ruled out indefinitely with a right foot injury he sustained against Clemson. Hairston, who has provided defensive relief for Duke’s post players this season and averages 11.3 minutes per game, will be hard pressed to stop Leslie, the ACC preseason Player of the Year. Expect to see Mason Plumlee (who guarded him last year) pick him up at times and Duke reserves Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson take turns on him, too.
Advantage: N.C. State

Richard Howell (6-8, 257) vs. Mason Plumlee (6-10, 235)
Plumlee established himself as the frontrunner for national Player of the Year through Duke’s nonconference schedule, though his offensive production has dropped off in the Blue Devils’ last three games (though Plumlee did set his teammates up for four 3-pointers with nice passes out of the post against Clemson). As Hairston isn’t an offensive threat, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Leslie help double-team Plumlee. Both Howell and Plumlee are defensive rebounding machines for their team, and it will be intriguing to see if Plumlee is able to use the few extra inches of reach that he has on Howell effectively. The most important number in this matchup, though, will be fouls. Neither team can afford to lose either player for an extended stretch of time.
Advantage: Duke

Tyler Thronton (6-1, 190), Amile Jefferson (6-8, 195), Alex Murphy (6-8, 220), Marshall Plumlee (6-11, 235) vs. T.J. Warren (6-8, 233), Tyler Lewis (5-11, 157), Jordan Vandenberg (7-1, 264)

T.J. Warren is averages 12.5 points per game, which is actually fourth-best on the team and 26 minutes per contest, but head coach Mark Gottfried prefers to bring him off the bench. Outside of backup point guard Tyler Thornton, none of Duke’s reserves average more than 8.8 minutes per game. With Kelly out, Duke will need more from the unproven Jefferson and Murphy (and, if possible, Plumlee, who was set back with a foot injury of his own earlier this season).
Advantage: N.C. State

Duke will be playing its first true road game, and it will be without its most effective scorer of late. There is no one on the roster who can truly replace Ryan Kelly. N.C. State was the preseason favorite to win the ACC but saw most everyone jump off the bandwagon after a head-scratching loss to Oklahoma State. The onus is on the Wolfpack to prove they are for real, a challenge Gottfried and Co. embrace. Plus, don’t think the Wolfpack returners from last year have forgotten about blowing that 20-point lead in Cameron after thoroughly outplaying Duke for 30 minutes. Don’t think Wolfpack nation, which will have PNC Arena packed, has forgotten that, either.
Advantage: N.C. State

While I agree with the majority of these advantages, I see some differences. I did appreciate the in depth analysis on Lorenzo Brown (notice big sarcasm), but I would say that even as much as Quinn Cook has improved, he is still not the caliber of player that Brown is when he plays his A game. As long as Brown keeps his turnovers down, this is a Wolfpack advantage. The small forward is a position that I feel is a push, especially with as well as Purvis has played the last couple of games. The one thing that isn’t mentioned at all is how Coach K will create motivation for his team, especially with Ryan Kelly out.

It will be a good game. The key to the game in my opinion is the first 10 minutes. State needs to play better in the first half and not have one of their trademark slow starts. If there is a slow start, the Pack could get down 8-10 points and the Blue Devils could quickly take the crowd out of the game, which is just what Coach K wants. If the Pack starts out like they did against St. Bonaventure, then Duke may be in for a long day. We will see in a few hours what transpires.

About ruffles31

1996 NC State graduate who is still waiting on his first ACC conference championship in any of the four main revenue sports (football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and baseball) since enrolling. All I want is a ACC Champions t-shirt.

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16 Responses to Duke vs NC State for ACC supremacy

  1. gcpack 01/12/2013 at 12:01 AM #

    Is there advanced notice on who the referees will be before the game starts?
    If its Jamie luckie,Brian Dorsey. Fat ass Hess or Sean hull we r screwed.

    A les Jones or ray Natalie r much more professional.

  2. graywolf 01/12/2013 at 6:58 AM #

    I tend to agree with gcpack. The biggest intangible is officiating. Last years debacle at Duke was in part NC State’s fault but a large portion of the meltdown was due to the officiating in the second half. If Hess is on the floor today the PNC will explode. I hope the front office is smarter than this but my gut feeling is that they are not.
    There could be some real trouble with fans if the wrong crew shows up to oversee this game today.

  3. wolfonthehill 01/12/2013 at 7:39 AM #

    There was Twitter buzz last night indicating that neither Duke nor NC State will be happy with the refs who take the floor today. First of all, what the hell could Duke EVER be upset about when it comes to officiating. Second, that points to Hess or Luckie in my mind on the NC State side (unless Ted Valentine’s making a guest appearance). And third, what a travesty ACC officiating has become when we even CARE who the refs are – they should be invisible & irrelevant, but they’ve evolved to be far from it.

    Game-wise, I think NC State is in control of their destiny today. If we come out and play as a cohesive team, within the offense, avoiding one-on-one crap & avoiding the need to be a star… then we have a good shot. If guys want to impress NBA scouts, we’re in for a long afternoon.

  4. starch 01/12/2013 at 7:43 AM #

    ” don’t think the Wolfpack returners from last year have forgotten about blowing that 20-point lead in Cameron after thoroughly outplaying Duke for 30 minutes. Don’t think Wolfpack nation, which will have PNC Arena packed, has forgotten that, either.”

    Would she be referring to gift the ACC officials handed Duke last year?

    It was the first part of the “put State in their place trivecta”, part 2 being the ejection of Corch and Googs by Hess, and the finale being the gift given to the holes in the ACC semi final.

  5. Texpack 01/12/2013 at 7:44 AM #

    I’m not sure we are really ready more this game. We have a lot more improvements to make as a team. I think it will help us in two weeks when we play UNC-CH. We do have a shot, but I’d say less than 50-50.

  6. choppack1 01/12/2013 at 7:51 AM #

    Me thinks Laura doesn’t watch or at least understand much basketball other than watching Duke play. (Did you notice how much specifics she has for the Blue Devils and how little she offers when it comes to NC State.)

    She’s a perfect example of why some of us see journalists on the integrity scale stuck between career petty criminals and career felons.

    This game will likely come down to officiating – and that’s why we’ll probably lose. This is going to be worse than those physicals us men after 40 have to endure – because for those physicals, it’s only a few minutes of pain, followed by a few hours of discomfort. This will be the equivalent of a 2 hour prostrate exam.

  7. MP 01/12/2013 at 8:03 AM #

    I kind of agree with Texpack, although I think the past 2 games have been more help than may be apparent with the team having to show some grit – Not to mention the game at Michigan. All said and done, we have prepared well, been beaten, been tested. I feel like we are ~80% in terms of knowing our identity as a team. We lack more of this in our defense – And with that said, IF this game is allowed to be played and not nitpicked by the ‘officials’, this is the kind of game where our guys could take a big step forward in their defensive identity.

    Unfortunately I agree with the trepidation about officiating. If the game is called the right way, I feel like we have about a 40% chance of winning which isn’t bad against #1 (I would say higher but there is always the Duke 3-point shot danger). With the uncertainty over the ACC referee junta, I’m feeling more 25-30%.

    We’ve got a veteran team now – Our guys need to show it today. Stay above the fray & don’t let either Duke or the junta get in your heads. Keep our cool and we will win this game.

  8. JohnGalt78 01/12/2013 at 8:10 AM #

    all the ACC refs wear blue thongs…..some dark blue, some powder blue.

  9. sequoyah 01/12/2013 at 8:26 AM #

    She talks about their bench minutes, but their bench scoring is awful. With Kelly sitting, they have four guys averaging double figures today, compared to our six.

    Would be interesting (and perhaps foolish), to see if Gottfried could turn the tables on K…can Curry and/or Plumlee be enticed into foul trouble? hello Vandy…..

    And Please God, Allah, Krishna, Yahweh, Buddha, and/or unnamed generalized abstract cosmic force of goodness – please no breakout game for some forgotten blue-clad benchsitter

  10. choppack1 01/12/2013 at 8:37 AM #

    Actually, I showed my bias. If we play D like we’ve played D for the first 35 minutes of the last 2 games, we’ll get killed – and it won’t be the refs fault.

    If Lo Brown is careless with the basketball and lazily defends Cook for the first 35 minutes, we’ll get killed.

    If we play D for an entire game AND the refs don’t hose us, we can win this game. Of course, if Duke has been consistent – playing hard D all year…and we know they’ll get the calls.

    So, if I’m an odds-maker, Duke is a 2-1 favorite.

  11. Pack78 01/12/2013 at 9:15 AM #

    Chops-the clear bias in Keeley’s (‘Duke beat writer’, imagine that) writing was my impression as well; probably 60+% on Duke, even with a majority on the ‘clear mismatch’ of Leslie v. Hairston. Be that as it may, I think that the Pack will be VERY focused in this one, beyond the holes, who would we rather beat than DOOK?

  12. statemech 01/12/2013 at 10:00 AM #

    I get the feeling that ESPN and other members of the national media cannot wait for us to lose this game so that Duke is “clearly the best” and we are even more so “exposed”… even though Duke is no. 1.

    But dammit today feels like a good day. Go Pack!

  13. burnbarn 01/12/2013 at 10:47 AM #

    Excellent article by Andrew Jones about the importance of this game to more that just the two teams and why


  14. bluelena69 01/12/2013 at 11:15 AM #

    Lest anyone think we are overly sensitive about getting shafted by refs, the following from Andrew Jones should underscore how we are justified in our perceptions. Isn’t this a charge?

    “Duke’s Mason Plumlee doesn’t seem like an ideal matchup with NC State’s bigs. He’s a bit goofy, will certainly be the target of the Wolfpack’s underrated student body, and will engender plenty of emotion the first time he catches, turns, knocks over Richard Howell and goes up for an uncontested slam as Howell looks up from the floor…”

  15. 44rules 01/12/2013 at 11:18 AM #

    But she does have a rather cute picture.

  16. Tau837 01/12/2013 at 12:27 PM #


    Brown > Cook
    Wood = Curry
    Purvis = Sulaimon
    Leslie >>> Hairston
    Howell < Plumlee
    State bench (quality) = Duke bench (quantity)
    State coaching staff > Duke intangibles (?)

    Put it all together and it’s close, but State has the edge IMO. However, it’s close enough that officiating could be the difference. Hoping that won’t be the case and we will win a fairly called game.

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