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  1. #1

    MBB: Duke @ Pitt (Tue 1/19 @ 9:00 PM on ESPN) Pre-Game and In-Game Thread

    Let's try this again, shall we? Duke looks to rebound in ACC play in Pittsburgh late on Tuesday night against the hometown Panthers. Each team has a roster updates in the last week. For Duke, Jalen Johnson returned in spot minutes against Virginia Tech as he returns to the lineup. Patrick Tapé has missed 2 games while Henry Coleman stayed in Durham last week. Duke could be back to full strength this week for the first time since early December.

    For Pitt, the big news is that star sophomore Justin Champagnie returned to action against Syracuse on Saturday in a blowout 20-point win over Syracuse. Meanwhile, FR F John Hugley has been suspended from the team due to off-court legal issues. Due to the COVID pause, Pitt's last two games have been against 'Cuse. Like Duke, Pitt is 3-1 in conference. They appear to be on the upswing, but it's hard to tell if that is just a favorable matchup against the Orange or a sign that Jeff Capel has this Panther squad on the right track.

    At this point in the year, with Duke having lost all three games against ranked opponents, the Blue Devils cannot afford to drop a game against a team like Pitt. The bulk of the season lies ahead (hopefully), but it's not too soon to say that this is a must-win game.

    For further reading, here's what I wrote for the first matchup that never was:

    Duke will take a roughly 2-week break from the schedule before returning to action against Jeff Capel and the Pitt Panthers at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After an embarrassing 10-point home loss to St Francis (PA), Pitt has turned things around and reeled off 5 wins. That streak includes a big comeback against Northwestern in Evanston, IL, and a comfortable 15-point margin against a depleted Miami team that was playing without Chris Lykes and several other contributors. From a stylistic perspective, Pitt is nearly the opposite of Duke's most recent opponent, Norte Dame. They play a tough style of defense but struggle to score the ball. Head Coach Jeff Capel, now in his third year in Pittsburgh, has a somewhat young roster and goes 8-10 deep. This game could look ugly after a long Duke layoff.

    The "big 3" for Pitt is in the backcourt, spearheaded by a pair of juniors and a sophomore rising star. 6'3" JR PG Xavier Johnson runs the show and does everything. He has been more of a 3-level scorer this year and has found success scoring inside the arc and has facilitated the offense well enough. He's a tough guard and will get rebounds though he can be a little loose with the ball at times. 6'6" JR G Au'Diese Toney is another tough-minded guard and has stepped up this year after the departure of classmate Trey McGowens. Toney is more of a slasher/driver but has found a more accurate jumper and is 9-22 (40.9%) from behind the arc. Toney and Johnson love to get to the rim and take a lot of free throw attempts. Preventing dribble penetration will be key. The other part of the big 3 is 6'6" Justin Champagnie who has been do-it-all player for Pitt this year. He had consecutive 20 point/20 rebound games earlier this year. The jumper is not there yet with Champagnie, so forcing him to pull up would be a good defensive strategy. Champagnie has been very effective around the rim this season and active on the boards. He is a 3-point jumper away from becoming an NBA prospect. Besides Johnson, Toney, and Champagnie, 6'3" SO Ithiel Horton starts and has played about 20 minutes a game for Pitt. He is more of a designated shooter, though, and should not be left open. He's more of an afterthought on offense, though.

    While Toney and Champagnie are wings or undersized forwards, the frontcourt consists of starter 6'8" SO Abdoul Karim Coulibaly. The big man is not utilized in the offense and rarely takes shots. He is there to defend the rim, set screens, and grab rebounds. He is best as a rim protector. Off the bench, a pair of FR, 6'9" 240 lb. John Hugley will provide some interior presence. The frontcourt is really lacking for Pitt this season, although Hugley was a top 100 recruit and he, along with Coulibaly could grow into the position in a few years. There are a few other freshmen and sophomores that play, although they hardly stand out.

    Overall, Pitt makes life tough around the rim for opponents and is both a good rebounding and shot blocking team. They struggle to score, though, especially if teams can prevent the big 3 from getting good looks around the rim. Pitt was in a tight game against a very depleted Miami team until about 10 or 11 minutes were left in the game. They barely escaped with a 1 point victory against Northwestern after trailing by 5 points with less than 45 seconds remaining. This is not a good Pitt team, but they make life tough for opponents and have a trio of tough and talented players in Johnson, Toney, and Champagnie. Duke will have to continue to make strides on offense and continue to play stout defense. If Duke has its full complement of players available, they will have a serious size, talent, and skill advantage. Will they be able to shake off the rust of two weeks to take advantage?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidBenAkiva View Post
    Let's try this again, shall we? Duke looks to rebound in ACC play in Pittsburgh late on Tuesday night against the hometown Panthers. Each team has a roster updates in the last week. For Duke, Jalen Johnson returned in spot minutes against Virginia Tech as he returns to the lineup. Patrick Tapé has missed 2 games while Henry Coleman stayed in Durham last week. Duke could be back to full strength this week for the first time since early December.

    For Pitt, the big news is that star sophomore Justin Champagnie returned to action against Syracuse on Saturday in a blowout 20-point win over Syracuse. Meanwhile, FR F John Hugley has been suspended from the team due to off-court legal issues. Due to the COVID pause, Pitt's last two games have been against 'Cuse. Like Duke, Pitt is 3-1 in conference. They appear to be on the upswing, but it's hard to tell if that is just a favorable matchup against the Orange or a sign that Jeff Capel has this Panther squad on the right track.

    At this point in the year, with Duke having lost all three games against ranked opponents, the Blue Devils cannot afford to drop a game against a team like Pitt. The bulk of the season lies ahead (hopefully), but it's not too soon to say that this is a must-win game.

    For further reading, here's what I wrote for the first matchup that never was:
    For sure, my friend. If Duke wants to do big things (e.g. compete for the regular season title), these next two road games @Pitt and @Lville are must-wins. And with respect to @Pitt, it's a must-win even if we have a more modest goal like getting off the bubble in March.

  3. #3
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    I'm not a bettor and I'm not sure if betting lines are established yet for games Tuesday 1/19.

    But is there any reason to suppose Duke would be favored in this game? I doubt that we would be.

  4. #4
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    Duke/Pitt betting line

    Quote Originally Posted by roywhite View Post
    I'm not a bettor and I'm not sure if betting lines are established yet for games Tuesday 1/19.

    But is there any reason to suppose Duke would be favored in this game? I doubt that we would be.
    The line's not posted, yet. Should be posted later today, maybe mid-morning.
    Duke's been favored in every game this year, including by 2 over VaT at VaT.
    Guessing Duke will be favored by about 6 at Pitt. Wouldn't bet on Duke covering as they've covered one spread this year.

    Interesting note: I saw Duke's 25-1 to win the Natty, same odds as Houston and Creighton (and a few others). Houston and Creighton are projected 2 and 3 seeds, respectively, while Duke is a 10th or 11th seed, i.e. a serious bubble team.

    Looking at Kenpom and factoring in homecourt advantage (if there really is one this year), the line may open closer to 4.5, Duke favored.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by duketaylor View Post
    The line's not posted, yet. Should be posted later today, maybe mid-morning.
    Duke's been favored in every game this year, including by 2 over VaT at VaT.
    Guessing Duke will be favored by about 6 at Pitt. Wouldn't bet on Duke covering as they've covered one spread this year.

    Interesting note: I saw Duke's 25-1 to win the Natty, same odds as Houston and Creighton (and a few others). Houston and Creighton are projected 2 and 3 seeds, respectively, while Duke is a 10th or 11th seed, i.e. a serious bubble team.

    Looking at Kenpom and factoring in homecourt advantage (if there really is one this year), the line may open closer to 4.5, Duke favored.
    Duke is sadly 1-7 against the spread. 8 games and 7 times we have 'underachieved' vs perception of 50/50 money- the one we covered? Notre Dame we were a 2 point favorite and won by 10 ish

    It's really not surprising when you consider our scores v MSU Illinois at Cameron and then Bellarmine and Coppin State where we are huge favorites and win by 10... At VT we were a 2pt favorite and lost outright etc. Betting against Duke could be a very profitable move if things don't turn soon.. If you had put $100 on any and all Duke opponents you be $590 in the plus

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by roywhite View Post
    I'm not a bettor and I'm not sure if betting lines are established yet for games Tuesday 1/19.

    But is there any reason to suppose Duke would be favored in this game? I doubt that we would be.
    The lines are not created subjectively but by computer programs run by computer nerds. So, yes, I would agree that if your typically pessimistic Duke fans used their gut to create this line, it would probably have Pitt favored. But, in the real world, most computers still have Duke as the better team. Kenpom is one respected computer nerd, and he has Duke favored by 3 in this one.

    Add in 0.5 to 1 point for Duke having extra prep time and I'd expect Duke to be favored by 3.5 to 4.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by gofurman View Post
    Duke is sadly 1-7 against the spread. 8 games and 7 times we have 'underachieved' vs perception of 50/50 money- the one we covered? Notre Dame we were a 2 point favorite and won by 10 ish

    It's really not surprising when you consider our scores v MSU Illinois at Cameron and then Bellarmine and Coppin State where we are huge favorites and win by 10... At VT we were a 2pt favorite and lost outright etc. Betting against Duke could be a very profitable move if things don't turn soon.. If you had put $100 on any and all Duke opponents you be $590 in the plus
    Luckily, Duke's record against the spread has absolutely zero impact on me.
       

  8. #8
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    Torvik has Duke at a 34% chance of MAKING the tournament. Forget about winning a title (for now).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by UrinalCake View Post
    Torvik has Duke at a 34% chance of MAKING the tournament. Forget about winning a title (for now).
    Why? That's what these next few games are going to decide -- just what kind of team we are. It really wouldn't be that surprising if we end up being a contender. Most people here seem to think we're going to end up being a bubble team, and while that's certainly a possibility, it's not the only one. If I weren't so lazy, I'd probably do a poll on where Duke finishes in the regular season standings; my guess is Duke will outperform the median DBR expectation. (Of course, just by making this post before the poll exists [if I weren't lazy], I'm probably causing the observer effect / Heisenberg principle to kick in and influence the results. Also, if someone does end up doing the poll, make sure you can't vote on it after the Pitt game tips).

  10. #10
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    Duke has fallen out of the AP top 25 for the first time since 2006.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  11. #11
    Duke-Pittsburgh game preview and what to watch for.

    https://bluedevilstop.com/duke-pittsburgh-game-preview/

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by chrishoke View Post
    Duke has fallen out of the AP top 25 for the first time since 2006.
    Can't be a surprise.
       

  13. #13
    Coach K says Patrick Tapé and Jalen Johnson are both back and available for tomorrow’s game @ PITT.
       

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by chrishoke View Post
    Duke has fallen out of the AP top 25 for the first time since 2006.
    Since 2016, unfortunately.

  15. #15
    scottdude8's Avatar
    scottdude8 is offline Contributor, Zoubek disciple, and resident Wolverine
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    I'll be watching closely to see what indications Coach K gives about his players' roles with Johnson back in the fold, and presumably able to play closer to starters' minutes. Does he stick with the 3 guard lineup we've seen over the past month for most of the game, or does he shift to going bigger with Wendell or Jaemyn playing a lot at the 3 (or Tape/Williams playing a lot at the 5)? Whose minutes get affected the most by Jalen's return? Who gives up shots to Jalen?

    Given the versatility of each of our three guards (all able to play the point to varying degrees), Wendell able to guard 2-4, and Johnson being a more traditional stretch 4, I think we're going to start to see Duke transition to a squad where we see our top 6 guys seeing ~30 mpg (as opposed to what we've been accustomed to seeing with our starters seeing ~35 mpg), and our seventh man varying between Joey, Jaemyn, Williams, or Tape depending on the matchup/hot hand. This week will be a big indicator of if that will indeed be the case.
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  16. #16
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    Duke opens as 3-pt favorites, fyi.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottdude8 View Post
    I'll be watching closely to see what indications Coach K gives about his players' roles with Johnson back in the fold, and presumably able to play closer to starters' minutes. Does he stick with the 3 guard lineup we've seen over the past month for most of the game, or does he shift to going bigger with Wendell or Jaemyn playing a lot at the 3 (or Tape/Williams playing a lot at the 5)? Whose minutes get affected the most by Jalen's return? Who gives up shots to Jalen?

    Given the versatility of each of our three guards (all able to play the point to varying degrees), Wendell able to guard 2-4, and Johnson being a more traditional stretch 4, I think we're going to start to see Duke transition to a squad where we see our top 6 guys seeing ~30 mpg (as opposed to what we've been accustomed to seeing with our starters seeing ~35 mpg), and our seventh man varying between Joey, Jaemyn, Williams, or Tape depending on the matchup/hot hand. This week will be a big indicator of if that will indeed be the case.
    At one point in this still young season, it was our offense that was holding the team back. Lately it's been the defense that's not performed up to Duke standards. If Coach K goes 2 guards, Hurt, Wendell and Jalen it hurts the offense. One of DJ, Roach or Goldy will not start but that doesn't mean they won't get big minutes. It could mean the team starts off slow and once again get's down big. I like the 3 guard, Hurt and Jalen look.

  18. #18
    scottdude8's Avatar
    scottdude8 is offline Contributor, Zoubek disciple, and resident Wolverine
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    Quote Originally Posted by jv001 View Post
    At one point in this still young season, it was our offense that was holding the team back. Lately it's been the defense that's not performed up to Duke standards. If Coach K goes 2 guards, Hurt, Wendell and Jalen it hurts the offense. One of DJ, Roach or Goldy will not start but that doesn't mean they won't get big minutes. It could mean the team starts off slow and once again get's down big. I like the 3 guard, Hurt and Jalen look.
    I agree 100%. If I were to put money on it, I'd bet that will be our most common starting lineup the rest of the season, with Wendell getting a bare minimum of 20 minutes off the bench. With the starts being such an issue, I would love to see K come out and start the game in the full or 3/4 court pressure that's been such a positive down the stretch in games, especially with the three guard lineup. Tell JG he's got 5 minutes to go all out defensively, then bring Wendell in and shift to a more traditional lineup. With how lackluster our starts have been, having the team start in a press and thus have to fully engage from the tip could be a nice way to start the game with the right energy.
    Scott Rich on the front page

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mo.st.dukie View Post
    Since 2016, unfortunately.
    yeah I thought it was far more recent.
    basketball is back, baby!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mo.st.dukie View Post
    Since 2016, unfortunately.
    Thanks for the correction.
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