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MBB Game 30: FSU at Duke, 3/3 at 8pm EST

Get that out of here...

Florida State's Solomon Alabi, top, and Duke's Gerald Henderson battle for a first-half rebound during an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, in Tallahassee, Fla. From AP Photo by Phil Coale.

Tonight we head to Cameron Indoor.

Time to return the favor and beat Duke on their home court.

Spoil Duke's attempt at an ACC Championship.

Expect Greatness. No Let Downs.

Ryan Reid on FSU's tournament chances: "Right now, everybody's saying, 'Oh, we're in, we're in,' But for us, we almost don't talk about it. We've got to take every game personally… We're still fighting."

Speaking of:

Before we get into the thick of it, here is a really nice piece on Toney from

Obviously there are a lot of opinions on where we stand with the selection committee. Check out MattD's excellent discussion on where we might end up in the ACC tournament. Here are a couple of other opinions about the NCAA tournament: Lunardi, one of the best Bracketology sites and the composite list from the BracketProject.

Tonight we travel to Cameron Indoor to take on the Duke Blue Devils and the Cameron Crazies and try to potentially spoil their run at an ACC Championship and add yet another line to our tournament resume. Duke was named team of the week by Note that there is some discussion about FSU at the bottom of that article.

When Duke visited the Tucker Center in January, we saw two teams struggling to find any offense in the first half, scoring 33 points total. We held Duke to 19 points. The teams went on to score a combined 91 points in the second half. FSU scored a total of 7 points between 11:03 left in the first half to 15:40 left in the second half, for a whopping .45 points per minute or game play. Despite being flat for almost 15 minutes of play, the Noles came storming back in the second half only to lose 66-58. Gerald Henderson had a then career high with 25 points. Their next highest scorer was Kyle Singler with 15. Duke shot a respectible 42.9% against us, while we struggled to finish with a 31% FG%. Douglas had 18, Kitchen 16 and Uche 10. Reid, Gibson, Loucks and Dulkys did not score. Alabi only had 4 and Demercy had two. We shot a delightful 17.6% from the three point line.

Here is how we did in that game:

Despite the loss and the lack luster offense, many of us were encouraged by the determination that this team showed. We could have easily folded when Duke went on that huge run to start the second half. Toney Douglas played inspired basketball in the second half and the effort from everyone was easily appreciated. I think this game really changed the mindset/expectations of this team. It was almost the blow out we all expected it to be, but we we're in the game.

We couldn't get anything done on offense in the first half and left us in too big a hole to recover. Take a look at the chart above and look at how drastically different our offensive numbers were in that game compared to our season average. I know our offense is nothing to get worked up about, but 0.85 PPP is brutal. Granted holding Duke to less than 1 PPP was impressive.

In my Clemson preview, I talked about the Four Factors and their correlation to Clemson's victories and losses. Here is how Duke has done this year with the Four Factors, these are the season averages of the four:

The two things that stand out are the consistency of Duke's shooting and that their turnover percentage continues to go down. They have shot the ball very well from the beginning of the season. And despite playing a very difficult schedule, their schedule ranks 13th overall according to Ken Pomeroy, their turnover percentage has ever so slightly trended down.

In their 5 losses (Boston College, UNC, Clemson, Wake and Michigan), Duke has had a significantly lower shooting percentage than their opponent. There have been other games in which Duke has shot a lower eFG% than there opponent and won. But the discrepancies in their losses is much more apparent. In fact, the average difference is roughly 8.46%.The most significant correlation to Duke's wins and losses is their opponents ability to limit Duke's eFG%. It has a 0.87 correlation coefficient Remember, the closer to 1 you are the, more stronger the relationship. If you challenge Duke's shots, take them out of their comfort zone, you have the best chance of winning. If Duke has a good shooting night, the correlation is 0.82, demonstrating the importance of their shooting on their success. The next most significant correlation is rebounding, specifically Duke's ability to limit their opponent's offensive rebounds. Moral of the story, don't let Duke get good looks at the basket and take care of your offensive rebounds. Closely behind the rebounds is TO%: If Duke turns the ball over, you have a pretty good chance of winning.

This graph demonstrates the correlation between Duke's losses and eFG%:

Despite a couple of hiccups in early conference play, Duke is an outstanding Basketball team. At the beginning of the year, I thought they were the top team in the conference:

Compared to UNC, Duke plays a much slower tempo offense and currently scores about 1.15 pts per possession. They play outstanding D and force almost 25 to's per game. They shoot extremely well from floor and they take care of the offensive boards. They have 7 players with offensive ratings over 110, which is excellent. When they have the ball, they score. However, like the Noles they turn the ball over a lot for an elite team. Unlike the Noles, they actually score on a regular basis. Duke is also a relatively tall team, ranking 36th overall for avg minutes weighted height, and 44th for effective height. You're still saying, "you're crazy, UNC still has better numbers." Having watched both teams this year, I think Duke's offensive systems and energy on defense is going to put them at the top. Again, I'm a total softy on this and could easily be convinced that UNC should be at the top. UNC scores by running you out of your defense and making quick baskets based on hustle and opportunity. Yes, they can play offense in the half court as well. But I feel that Duke's offense wears defenses down and will be able to score regularly against the ACC defenses. They will be able to break down man-to-man and zone schemes.

Since I wrote that, Duke has improved their turnovers troubles and plays balanced basketball, ranking 6th and 8th on offense and defense respectively. Here are Duke's numbers:

 Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 111.9 ( 20) 92.1 ( 15)
Adj Efficiency : 117.1 ( 6) 87.6 ( 8)

Effective FG% : 51.0 (101) 46.8 ( 74)
Turnover Pct. : 17.9 ( 32) 24.2 ( 19)
Off. Rebound% : 38.9 ( 22) 32.1 (146)
Free Throw Rate: 40.2 ( 73) 30.9 ( 51)

3-Point FG% : 33.7 (185) 32.6 ( 80)
2-Point FG% : 51.2 ( 63) 46.0 ( 95)
Free Throw Pct.: 72.5 ( 57) 68.7 (170)
Block Pct. : 9.8 (244) 9.7 (114)
Steal Pct. : 8.4 ( 47) 12.5 ( 22)

3PA/FGA : 33.7 (151) 25.3 ( 4)
A/FGM : 50.3 (262) 43.8 ( 8)

Lots and lots of green. They shoot the ball consistently well from inside the 3 point line. They get to the line. They protect the basketball and they frustrate you on defense. The major blemishes on the the defensive side of the ball are their ability to limit opponents OReb and shot blocking. Their major sore thumb is the number of times they get blocked. But, Duke likes to attack the basket and is therefore more likely to get blocked. Duke's majore defensive liability is their ability to stop their opponents in the paint. Duke's defends the 3 point shot well and forces their opponents into bad shots. But their opponents scores almost 60% of their points inside the arc. Zoubek, despite being a big body, is not an oustanding center.

For comparison sake, here are our numbers:

 Offense Defense
Raw Efficiency : 100.0 (201) 93.4 ( 25)
Adj Efficiency : 104.0 (128) 88.3 ( 11)

Effective FG% : 48.4 (195) 44.6 ( 21)
Turnover Pct. : 22.7 (289) 23.4 ( 37)
Off. Rebound% : 35.5 ( 81) 35.8 (280)
Free Throw Rate: 41.2 ( 52) 34.8 (140)

3-Point FG% : 33.6 (191) 32.4 ( 67)
2-Point FG% : 47.4 (197) 42.4 ( 18)
Free Throw Pct.: 72.4 ( 62) 68.1 (133)
Block Pct. : 8.1 (123) 16.2 ( 6)
Steal Pct. : 10.0 (187) 12.7 ( 17)

3PA/FGA : 33.8 (145) 35.7 (267)
A/FGM : 53.2 (196) 46.9 ( 22)

Fortunately for us, Duke's ability to win doesn't correlate strongly with their offensive rebounding, which is something we have struggled with all year (The lone red number in the defensive column). Our strongest correlation to winning is our shooting percentage, by a long shot. When we shoot well and our opponent's defense doesn't shut down our shooting (two different stats), we win. If we turn the ball over and/or their deffense forces a lot turnovers, we loose. The strongest correlation however, is our opponents defensive eFG%.

Our team is different from the one that Duke beat in January. Our offense is crisper; we have shown purpose on offense and our defense continues to be outstanding. Out big men are getting the job down low. This game will come down to who shoots the ball better. Henderson had a career game last time; I doubt that we'll let him do that again. Can we prevent their big three (Henderson, Paulus and Scheyer) from having big nights? Yes.

Here are the likely starting line ups:

F #31 Chris Singleton (7.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg; 6 pts and 3 rebs vs. Duke, Jan. 10, 2009)
F #41 Uche Echefu (8.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg; 6 pts and 7 rebs vs. Duke, Jan. 16, 2008)
C #32 Solomon Alabi (8.1 ppg, 2.1 bpg; 4 pts and 9 rebs vs. Duke, Jan. 10, 2009)
G #22 Derwin Kitchen (8.4 ppg, 2.3 apg; 16 pts and 5 stls vs. Duke, Jan. 10, 2009)
G #23 Toney Douglas (20.6 ppg, 2.0 spg; 18 pts and 2 stls vs. Duke, Jan. 10, 2009)

F #12 Kyle Singler (16.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg; 15 pts and 5 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 10, 2009)
F #42 Lance Thomas (5.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg; 1 pt and 3 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 10, 2009)
G #15 Gerald Henderson (16.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg; 25 pts and 5 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 10, 2009)
G #20 Elliot Williams (3.8 ppg, 0.5 apg; 1 pts and 0 rebs vs. Florida State, Jan. 10, 2009)
G #30 Jon Scheyer (13.9 ppg, 2.8 apg; 21 pts and 2 stls vs. Florida State, Jan. 16, 2008)

Like the last game, it will be an ugly first half with each team trying to figure out how to break the other's pressure defense. Fortunately, we are doing better against the press. Look for another relatively low scoring defensive battle. I would love for us to come out with a win. It is certainly possible. We are going to make the tournament. A win only helps our seed. We have nothing to lose. We should go into Cameron Indoor with confidence and get after Duke and play physical frustrating defense. Get Singler into foul trouble. Get Paulus into foul trouble. Frustrate this team and they get derailed easily. My fear is that Duke is going to get all of the calls at home and once again we will see the huge FT discrepancy we saw last time. (Highly entertaining videos on each of those links)

Take it to 'em Toney!

Florida State's Toney Douglas, left, works the ball against Duke's Nolan Smith during the second half.

And, Solomon, play the game of your life. know what to do...take care of business:

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 04: Uche Echefu #41 of the Florida State Seminoles tries to take the ball away from DeMarcus Nelson #21 of the Duke Blue Devils on Febraury 4, 2007 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Uche Echefu;DeMarcus Nelson From Getty Images.

Look for the game on or The game will be televised on Raycom Sports. Sirius XM users go to Channel 190.

Go Noles!