Duke vs. NC State Preview & Predictions - ACC Semifinals - Watch Out for Revenge!

These two in-state rivals only faced each other once this season on January 18, and Duke absolutely torched the Wolfpack in Cameron, 95-60.

However, NC State has turned their season around since then and have won four straight games, including their upset win over Syracuse last night. Duke looked a little shaky against Clemson yesterday as they escaped with the one point win.

So will this game turn out differently?

Projected Starting lineups

(3) #7 Duke (25-7, 13-5 ACC)

G Tyler Thornton, Sr., 3.1 ppg, 2.4 apg

G Rasheed Sulaimon, So., 9.6 ppg, 2.5 apg

F Rodney Hood, R-So., 16.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg

F Jabari Parker, Fr., 19.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg

C Amile Jefferson, So., 6.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg

(7) NC State (21-12, 9-9)

G Tyler Lewis, So., 4.3 ppg, 3.5 apg

G Ralston Turner, Jr., 10.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg

F T.J. Warren, So., 24.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg

F Kyle Washington, Fr., 4.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg

C Jordan Vendenburg, Sr., 4.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg

What to watch for:

Jabari Parker vs T.J. Warren

Parker and Warren were the only two unanimous All-ACC selections, and Warren beat out Parker for conference Player of the Year.

They're the top two scorers in the conference, as well as two of the top rebounders even though they're both true small forwards, but they also have the ability to play power forward in smaller lineups, which Parker has been forced to do all season due to Duke's lack of size.

Because of this, it's unlikely that they'll guard each other for anything other than a few possessions, especially with Rodney Hood (who essentially announced he was going pro after the season last night) lining up across from Warren.

Parker and Warren are both the catalysts for their teams with their play largely determining how their team does. Duke can get away with Warren playing a little better than Parker because they're the more talented side.

But if Warren continues his hot streak (33.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg over his last four games), Parker is going to have to match that effort to keep the Devils from falling behind.

Intensity Levels

Duke came out sluggish against a desperate Clemson team looking for a big win to put them in NCAA Tournament consideration last night, and they run into an equally desperate NC State team tonight.

I think the Wolfpack put themselves in the tournament after their win over Syracuse last night, but they can clinch a spot with another big win over the Blue Devils.

As a result, they're going to come out playing with their hair on fire, and Duke's going to have to match that level of focus and intensity to avoid the upset.

Prediction: Duke 77-74. In all three of Mark Gottfried's seasons as head coach of the Wolfpack, his team has made the ACC Tournament semifinals, but he's failed to make the finals in his first two. Unfortunately, he'll likely make it three-for-three today. NC State will lead for most of this game, but eventually Duke's superior talent will take over and win a close one. They'll be able to match State's intensity level because of the rivalry between the two schools, and Parker will rebound to have a great game after struggling against Clemson last night.

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