ACC Capsules: Miami to test Blue Devils

ACC Capsules: Miami to test Blue Devils

Published Jan. 22, 2013 7:36 a.m. ET

We will continue learning a lot about the Ryan Kelly-less Duke Blue Devils when they visit Miami on Wednesday night. 

This should be a terrific battle and could go a long way in determining the pecking order at the end of the regular season. Top-ranked Duke is always that good and Miami certainly is this season. 

Duke’s edge is with 6-foot-11 senior center Mason Plumlee down low, especially if he can get Julian Gamble in foul trouble. Plumlee’s ability to move after receiving entry passes could cause problems for Gamble, who has a tendency of getting into foul trouble. He also goes for a lot of fakes, something Plumlee can take advantage of with his array of head fakes and drop steps. 

In fact, it was after a drop-step, turn and jam that sent Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski into a celebratory frenzy during last week’s win over Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets called an immediate timeout after the jam and Krzyzewski raced to center court and embraced Plumlee with his version of a bear hug. The legendary coach knows when he sees his big man execute moves like that he’s on his game, and that’s always good for Duke.

“Coach was excited,” Plumlee said, smiling. “I think he likes to see that.”

Miami’s edge is its overall maturity and experience. This group of Hurricanes, who at 13-3 overall and 4-0 in the ACC entered the national rankings this week at No. 25, have been in many games against high-profile, so they should handle with properly. If so, Miami will win because at home and playing defense like they can. The Hurricanes should be favored.

Pick: Miami, 68-64.

Jan. 22

When: 7 p.m.
Full Court Press: Interesting test for the Wolfpack, who physically should cruise in this game. But Sunday’s narrow win over Clemson wasn’t impressive and could have been a sign N.C. State has focus issues creeping back into its hoops soul. If they struggle with the Demon Deacons we will know something is wrong. They won’t, though, as Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie, assuming he plays with passion, are too good down low for Wake to handle.
Pick: N.C. State, 77-61.

When: 9 p.m.
Full Court Press: The Terrapins should be ready to play even though they are coming off consecutive emotional games. Boston College is a team the Terps must beat to achieve their goals, so there’s no excuse to mess around in this game. This is also one 7-foot-1 center Alex Len can post big numbers. Maryland must go to him. The Eagles have to hit from the perimeter and do a good job pushing Len off the lower blocks.
Pick: Maryland, 70-62. 

Jan. 23

When: 9 p.m.
Full Court Press: Will UNC be ready to play for a third-consecutive game or will it waddle through this one allowing the Yellow Jackets to hang around? If the Tar Heels are ready, they will win pulling away. Georgia Tech is physical, and North Carolina must respond to that, but it should also get looks on the perimeter. The Heels should knock them down. 
Pick: UNC, 77-64. 

Jan. 24

When: 8 p.m.
Full Court Press: Big game for both teams, as each has postseason aspirations but are dangerously close to playing their way out of contention. This also likely will be a low scoring, grind it out affair. FSU scored 36 points its last time out in a 20-point loss at Virginia and Clemson hasn’t scored more than 66 points in an ACC game yet. Ironically, that happened when these teams met a few weeks ago. FSU won that day, 71-66. By the way, Michael Snaer has scored in double figures in just one conference game thus far. 
Pick: FSU, 62-55.

When: 8 p.m.
Full Court Press: Talk about two different styles of hoops: UVa wants to control tempo, taking what’s there offensively, which sometimes means playing fast and more often means playing slowly and winning low-scoring games. The Hokies, on the other hand, prefer to play fast, sometimes even careless. The Cavaliers’ discipline and IQ should prevail, but they can’t be trusted on the road. 
Pick: Virginia Tech, 65-60. 

Season record: 135-29