Duke vs. Pitt Preview & Predictions

The Blue Devils kick off their toughest week of the season tonight when they face Pittsburgh on the road. Coach K's squad is riding high on a four game winning streak, but the Panthers are hot as well, winning eight of their last nine games.

Projected Starters:

#17 Duke (15-4, 4-2)

G Quinn Cook, Jr., 12.6 ppg, 5.5 apg

G Matt Jones, Fr., 2.6 ppg, 0.9 rpg

F Rodney Hood, R-So., 17.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg

F Jabari Parker, Fr., 18.7 ppg, 8.o rpg

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

#18 Pitt (13-5, 4-2)

G James Robinson, So., 8.3 ppg, 4.2 apg

G Cameron Wright, Jr., 10.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg

F Lamar Patterson, Sr., 17.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg

F Michael Young, Fr., 5.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg

F Talib Zanna, Sr., 13.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg

What to watch for:


Duke hit the glass hard last week, averaging 43.5 rebounds per game and outrebounded both Miami and Florida State by at least 14 boards. That was a nice surprise from a team that has struggled in that category throughout the year and are considered to be a "small" team.

On the other hand, Pitt hangs their hat on being tougher than their opposition and owning the boards at both ends of the floor. They rank 80th in the country averaging 37.4 a game, and are one of the biggest teams in the country.

If Pitt is able to control the glass, chances are they'll be able to control the tempo and slow the game down, which if Duke gains the advantage, they'll be able to push the ball, speed the game up, and create transition opportunities for easy baskets.


Pitt ranks in the top 10 nationally in assists per game (17 per game) and shoots just under 49% from the field on the year, good for 14th in the country. Duke isn't far behind in either category, averaging 15 apg on 47% shooting.

What does this mean? That both teams operate extremely well on the offensive end. When they run their offenses, they execute at a high rate and convert on a good portion of their opportunities.

However, they won't be able to do that if they don't take care of the ball - missed opportunities to score points hurt a team, and their importance is compounded in a game between two evenly matched squads. And in a game that figures to be tight throughout, easy baskets gained off turnovers can spell doom for the other team.

Prediction: Duke 71-69. This game is going to come down to the wire, no two ways about it. Pitt is a very good basketball team, as is Duke. The Blue Devils just have more talent on their roster - and on their sideline - which will ultimately make the difference in a tight game where someone's going to have to make a play.

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