A pivotal game for both teams, here’s who our staff thinks will win.
In a game both teams are desperate to win, the No. 12 Duke Blue Devils host the N.C. State Wolfpack on Monday night in Cameron Indoor. The Wolfpack are squarely on the bubble, in dire need of another win after losing to North Carolina and Florida State last week.
The Blue Devils have lost two straight games and are quickly seeing their tournament seeding slip. The Blue Devils also sit tied for third in the ACC standings, needing a win to stay above Virginia and have any chance of catching Florida State this weekend.
Last time these two squads met, the Wolfpack dominated from the opening tip, running away with an 88-66 win on its home court. Will the result repeat? Here’s what our staff thinks about tonight’s game.
Zack Smith (@zackrusmith): Duke 84, N.C. State 79
Even though it was a struggle, the Wolfpack was able to pull out a “must-win” at home against Pitt on Saturday. Jericole Hellems provided a much-needed spark off the bench with 16 huge points without missing a single shot. N.C. State will likely need a similar performance from someone like Hellems to have a shot at beating Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils aren’t unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination, but coming off two-straight road losses will likely have them playing with their hair on fire. It should be a fairly high-scoring and fun game to watch, but I think Duke has too much talent for the Wolfpack in the end.
Luke Tucker (@luketucker19_): N.C. State 81, Duke 74
Call me crazy, but I think State has as good a chance as ever to beat Duke twice in the same year. It hasn’t happened since 1995, but the Blue Devils were noticeably flustered by N.C. State’s up-tempo style, and it’s something they haven’t handled well this season. If the trio of Markell Johnson, Devon Daniels, and C.J. Bryce can make shots from the perimeter, we very well could be staring down another Wolfpack victory. State knows how much this game means to their NCAA Tournament hopes, so expect them to come out aggressive early and force Duke out of the paint.
Richard Adkins (@RichardJAdkins): Duke 74, N.C. State 61
To be frank, don’t expect a close one here with Duke looking to get their revenge after embarrassing loss they took on February 19th. Duke is in a fight to lock up the one seed for the ACC tournament and they won’t be taking N.C. State as lightly as they did the first time. N.C. State will come out hot to prove that their last victory wasn’t a fluke, however, expect Duke to turn on the burners late and go on many runs that will end in a blowout.
Christian Candeloro (@christiancande3): Duke 87, N.C. State 73
It’s just hard for me to envision a scenario in which N.C. State has enough firepower to go on the road and beat a team like Duke, even with the Blue Devils as vulnerable as they are. The Wolfpack has only demonstrated one time this year an ability to win on the road against a good team (Jan. 20th vs Virginia), while laying massive eggs against UNC, Boston College and Georgia Tech on the road. Maybe if Braxton Beverly was playing better or if we could expect freshman Manny Bates to stay out of foul trouble but I just don’t see it. Duke has struggled with consistency lately, but has been rock solid in Cameron Indoor.