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Special to theACC.com, by Max Skinner
The Duke men’s basketball team is vying for their fifth national championship this weekend. Here are the final four reasons the Blue Devils will cut down the nets on April 6th.
Str-Ides of March
March has to be Justise Winslow’s favorite month. The 6-6 SF from Houston just turned 19-years-old five days ago, and he is in the midst of an impressive tournament run.
The freshmen phenom is averaging 14 PPG and 9.5 RPG in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The combination of his speed and size has been causing matchup headaches for opponents all season.
The frightening part of Winslow’s game is his improving three-point accuracy. Justise Winslow needs to continue to play at this elite level if the Blue Devils are going to cut down the nets next Monday.
Defense wins Championships
Early on this season, defense was a question mark for this Duke team. However, in the tournament, the Blue Devils have held their four opponents combined to shoot less than 40 percent.
Duke is only allowing 53.5 ppg in the NCAA Tourney. As ACCDN’s Jason Capel alluded to, Duke has been playing a ton of zone recently. It will be interesting to see how this zone translates against a hot-shooting Michigan State squad.
Beat Em’ Already
On November 18th (also ironically played in Indianapolis) Duke cruised past Michigan State 81-71.
In that game, the Blue Devils shot 54 percent (27-50) and 50 percent (7-14) from 3-point land. Duke also went 20 of 26 from the free throw line, compared to Michigan State going 6 of 10.
Coach K’s squad needs to match this aggressive sentiment, dominating the paint against the Spartans.
Then, on December 3rd, Duke solidified its first true road test with an 80-70 victory at Wisconsin. That game was Tyus Jones’ coming out party, as the freshmen finished with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
*Notes: Duke is 4th in eFG% and 5th best in FT Rate nationally | Michigan State is 32nd in eFG% and 205th in FT Rate nationally
Duke head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, has been a true model of consistency in college basketball.
In his 35 seasons at the helm of the Blue Devils, Coach K has now been to 12 Final Fours. You do the math: a Duke team reaches the Final Four once every three years. That’s absurd.
Krzyzewski now matches UCLA’s John Wooden for most Final Four appearances by a head coach, and five more than anyone else.
We will see if Duke’s timeless leader can win his fifth national championship this weekend in Indianapolis.
*Advanced Statistics according to Ken Pom Ratings