This is the sixth and final part of a six part series in which Thomas Eames, Jason Morrow, Brian Horace (Duke Blogger), and Randy Dunson (Duke Blogger) go through and predict who will win each Duke basketball game. We will all individually predict each game and show you where we think Duke will be at the end of the year.
While Duke should be able to win the ACC regular season title, I do not think they will win the ACC tournament. The ACC has many teams that Duke may have trouble with, but that Duke played at home against during the regular season. Maryland, Virginia, Notre Dame, and Syracuse will all provide Duke with a great challenge in order to win the ACC tournament. Duke will be the favorite, but they will not win the tournament due to tough competition and a huge target on their backs,
Win ACC Tournament.
The reader can refer back to my analysis of other ACC teams to review how the ACC Tournament will play out. As I see it, there are 5 teams in the upper tier in the ACC & I believe they will remain so come Tourney time. Duke leads the way followed by Syracuse, Virginia, Notre Dame, and UNC. I predict that Duke will not only win the regular season but will win their 14th ACC Tourney title. Duke will beat Syracuse in the final (65-60).
Duke will likely enter the NCAA tournament as a top 2 seed which will serve them well during the tournament. I expect Duke to have no trouble with the lower seeded teams, with their supreme athleticism, allowing them to breeze into the Sweet Sixteen. From there, it greatly depends on match ups. I fully expect Duke to be a Final Four team, but a poor match up could cause them to go home early. Ultimately, I expect Duke to be a Final Four team, but eventually fall short of their overall goal. Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood will make Duke an extremely difficult team to knock out, but Duke's lack of size down low will prove the be their fatal weakness. A team with superior size: Kentucky (Randle, Cauley-Stein, Johnson), Arizona (Tarczewski), Michigan (McGary), Michigan State (Payne), etc., will find a way to beat Duke in the paint and make enough shots to win. I expect Duke to have an extremely successful year, but their lack of a true center could be their undoing. Can Marshall Plumlee be Duke's savior at center?
I predict Duke makes it to the final four with arguably the most experienced and dynamic lineup in the country.
I must admit that I was leery in trying to make predictions for the Big Dance so far out given that so much can (& will) happen from November through March, but hey that’s all they are...predictions. My Final Four teams are Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, & Michigan State.
The Wildcats may be inexperienced as Calipari brings in a loaded freshman class, which include twin brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison are incredibly talented & who are expected to shine. UK not only brings in a ton of talent, but also returns virtually everyone from a year ago — most notably Willey Cauley Stein, who has reportedly been making huge strides offensively. Kentucky’s interstate rival to the north will also be making an appearance in this year’s Final Four. The Cardinals shouldn’t take much of a drop-off from last season as only Peyton Silva and Gorgui Deng have moved on. Chane Behanan, along with Wayne Blackshear, will be the main contributors for the Cardinals. Look out for last year’s Final Four MVP, Luke Hancock, who can fill it up from just about anywhere on the court. While Louisville doesn’t have as much talent as UK, they do have the toughness and grit to make it to their third consecutive Final Four. Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team is very experienced. MSU’s hopes this season were bolstered when Adreian Payne surprised many when he withdrew his name from the NBA draft in June. Their best player likely will be star sophomore, Gary Harris & in the frontcourt, Branden Dawson will be counted on early to be a bigger force than last season. If Dawson can shore up his consistency issues and become the player he was supposed to be coming out of high school, the Spartans will be a team to be on the lookout for. And last, but certainly not least, Coach K’s Blue Devils will make their first Final Four since the 2010 NCAA Championship team. One big reason why is bonafide superstar in the making, Jabari Parker. The incoming freshman, who went to the same high school as Derrick Rose, has drawn comparisons to LeBron James. Complementing Parker in the frontcourt will be Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood. Duke also has some solid guard play with Quinn Cook leading at point guard, while Andre Dawkins serves as a knockdown three-point specialist. More can be found in my season predictions above. Regardless, the Cameron Crazies are hopeful that Coach K will be bringing his fifth NCAA Championship back to Durham. Duke will beat Kentucky in the final (80-72).