Believe it or not, the Western Michigan Beavers (5-7) enter their tilt against the Duke Blue Devils (10-1) as the hotter team. The Beavers have won four in a row after their disastrous 0-6 start.
Duke, the AP’s seventh ranked team, has enjoyed an 11-day break to celebrate the holidays and have been able to feast on doormats like Colorado State, Washington and UNC Greensboro to ease the pain of their Nov. 29th blowout loss to Ohio State.
Will the long layoff put the Blue Devils on upset alert? Here is everything you need to know for this non-conference tilt.
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium
When: Friday December 30th, 7:00 PM EST
Stream: Coverage begins on Goduke.com starting at 6:00 PM EST
Key Injuries: No serious injuries of note for Duke.
Western Michigan: Flenard Whitfield, F- Questionable (Ankle)
Brandon Pokley, G- Questionable (Foot)
David Brown, G- Out For Season (Knee)
Duke Player to Watch: Mason Plumlee
The junior forward has been a dominating force on the glass thus far, averaging 10 boards a game. While he may only be attempting 7.6 field goal attempts, his 66 shooting percentage suggests Plumlee is one of the most efficient players in the nation.
Getting Plumlee involved early on will put the pressure on the Broncos to defend a player they don’t have the personal to match up against.
Plumlee has the potential to bury Western Michigan in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Western Michigan Player to Watch: Demetrius Ward
The senior guard has been inconsistent early this season and is shooting an abysmal 38 percent from the floor. His 12.4 points a game are a full point below his average last year, while his turnovers are up.
The Broncos need Ward to stay under control and not allow the Cameron Crazies to get into his head. Composure is key when playing at Duke, and the rest of the team will crumble if they watch their senior leader collapse under the pressure.
Key Matchup: Mike Douglas vs. Austin Rivers
The freshman sensation has been quite inconsistent in his brief time in college, and he still has the ability to put up an awful performance. If Douglas can lead him into another five-turnover game that features plenty of wild shots, they have a shot.
If Rivers builds his confidence early and allow him to gain confidence, this game is going to be over in a hurry. The defense of Douglas will make or break the Broncos.
The only way to beat Duke at home is to close out quickly on all of their three-point attempts and make sure to grab rebounds on the first miss.
Duke is 16th in the nation—averaging over 80 points a game, and are ninth in field goal percentage at 50.1. They may not rebound very well, but with the Plumlee brothers patrolling the paint, it’s hard to imagine the Broncos being able to compete.
Expect Duke to register a sky-high shooting percentage that, with the aid of the Cameron Crazies, will turn this game into blowout city.
Duke 85 Western Michigan 61