Lauren Brownlow breaks down tonight's Duke-Pitt matchup.
NO. 18 DUKE (16-4, 5-2 ACC) AT NO. 20 PITTSBURGH (18-2, 6-1 ACC)
Time: 7:00 p.m.
ALL THE BLUE-COLLARNESS AND RUGGEDNESS AND REBOUNDING AND DEFENSE AND GRIT AND SWEAT AND WORKING-CLASSNESS! I’m telling you, these are things you will hear quite a bit during this game. Heck, I heard them quite a bit from Duke’s players, who repeatedly talked about the “manliness” of the upcoming schedule after their impressive rout of Florida State. So, here’s the thing: Duke is going to have to be tough on the interior on both ends of the floor, and Pitt is going to have to be ready for it. DON’T FALL FOR BOEHEIM’S NARRATIVE THAT THIS LEAGUE CAN’T BE TOUGH! IT’S A TRAP, PITT!
But seriously, Duke collected over 61 percent of its missed shots against Florida State with a ridiculous 27 offensive rebounds. Pitt doesn’t allow that generally - opponents are rebounding 27 percent of their misses in league play against them - and the Panthers are more than happy to play the way Duke would like them to in the halfcourt. And by that I mean don’t take three-pointers. But when Duke is able to contest around the basket and/or get rebounds, the Blue Devils are much tougher to deal with than the team that was letting opponents drive to the basket with ease and pound the offensive glass.
NAMES TO KNOW
Jabari Parker. He’s still not shooting all that well, but he’s averaging 18 points in the last three games for Duke (and 9.0 free-throw attempts per game) to go with 12.0 rebounds. That’s basically all Duke needs from him, in addition to attacking the basket and continuing to get to the foul line. And taking two-point shots. Because eventually, those will fall. Since the Virginia game, when Parker attempted seven three-pointers (and made two), he’s 2-of-6 from three in the last three games combined and 13-of-34 from two. Again, not a great percentage, but the free-throw attempts make up for that. Parker, as we all know, is a special player, and for Duke to beat the best team it’s played since late November, he’s going to have to have a big night.
Lamar Patterson. Never let it be said that North Carolina media aren’t open to those outside our geographic area. Because collectively, this media is falling in love with Lamar Patterson. Okay, so maybe just me and the people I know (Editor's note - LIKE ME!!!) . Either way. He’s No. 2 in Ken Pom’s kPOY rankings (a spot ahead of Parker, who’s No. 3). He dishes out assists. He gets rebounds and steals. He’s a good shooter. He’s a great scorer. He can take over games. What more do you want?!?! He had struggled some recently (making 13-of-35 shots in the three games leading up to Maryland, and just 5-of-18 from two-point range) but at Maryland, he finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, seven assists an four steals. *Elaine-shoves everyone in sight* <3 <3 <3 <3
STATS ARE FOR LOSERS
The last time Duke was in Ken Pom’s top 10 - before today, that is - was November 24, and Duke proceeded to almost lose at home to Vermont. Revisiting that game for a moment - Vermont is now 12-9 on the season but 93rd in Pomeroy’s rankings, by the way - Vermont not only had the highest offensive efficiency against Duke of any team this season (139.3), it also had the highest … well, ever. Against Duke. Since Pomeroy’s been tracking it in 2003. It took a 140.9 from Duke - one of its better marks in years - to hold off the Catamounts. Duke has had a higher efficiency this year, though - a 157.4 against Davidson, which is its best offensive efficiency mark in a game since 2003. … Pittsburgh, speaking of offensive efficiency, has been cruising right along this year on that end of the floor. But the Panthers have posted two of their four worst offensive efficiency ratings in the last week or so here (an 100.5 against Syracuse and a 106.0 against Maryland). And four of their worst six defensive performances. But Pitt keeps finding ways to win games, and THAT’S NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN MEASURE WITH STATS! … But seriously, speaking of stats, Pitt had its best free-throw rate of the season against Maryland with a ridiculous 95.9.
Oh, word? You think you’re so tough, Pitt? WELL WE’LL SHOW YOU!
Listen, guys. We might as well just accept that this is our new ACC overlord. He might even change the name of our league back to “Big East” again, just because he can.
(Oh, and also DUKE CAN’T WIN ON THE ROAD %^%&%*(&*(&!!!!!`111111ffdasjkdjask;fjdka;!!!!!)
I….I don’t know what this is, but it’s SO MACHO!
Pitt fans everywhere:
Duke, 69-67. I can’t explain it. I really can’t. But every time I try to type “Pitt”, I can’t. I just don’t see it happening.
Overall: 44-17 (36-13 ACC)
Last week: 13-1 (13-1 ACC)