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Miami Basketball ACC Opponent Preview: Duke Blue Devils

In an effort to bring UM Hoops fans up to speed on their ACC opposition we will preview each and every team in the conference. We will also look at how the 'Canes match up with each squad and what to expect from each team in 2014-15. Today we start with arguably the premier program in the conference if not the country.

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When you think of the best Mike Krzyzewski coached teams, you envision experienced and senior laden squads that are mentally tough and prepared to handle any situation. The Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, and Grant Hill championship teams, or more recently Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith led units, are the epitomes of what Duke Basketball used to be about.

Fast forward however to the present.   Last season the Blue Devils' best player was a true freshman in Jabari Parker, who left after one season to head to the NBA. This year they might have the best freshman in the country in 7 foot C Jahlil Okafor, a player some have likened to a young David Robinson.  Can Duke win by resting its' hopes on the back of a first year player?  Upon closer examination this is a team that is more than just "diaper dandies" and is loaded with young and experienced talent alike.

Roster Overview:

It starts with Okafor in the middle. The kid is NBA first overall pick talented.  Some young guys have adjustment periods, but Okafor should be outstanding from the get go.  The best PG in the class, Tyus Jones, also chose Duke. The Devils have an experienced point in Quinn Cook to run the show, but Jones could play heavy minutes next to Cook and/or take over crunch time by season's end, if he is as good as expected. It's a nice problem for Coach K to have. On the wing they return Rasheed Sulaiman, a proven scorer back for his junior season.  On nights he has a cold hand, Duke can turn to another super talented freshman in Justise Winslow. Look for sharp shooter Matt Jones to get some more burn this year as well.  True freshman Grayson Allen is yet another super talented scorer who adds to the firepower.  Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee are veteran front court presences who could be major keys as role players.  In a nutshell this is a team loaded with talent, that appears to have a good mix of outrageously good first year stars, and battle tested veterans.

Key Performers:

C Jahlil Okafor - 7'0 265 Frosh

G Tyus Jones - 6'1 180 Frosh

G Quinn Cook - 6'2 180 Senior

G Rasheed Suliman 6'4 190 Junior

F Amile Jefferson 6'9 210 Junior

What to Expect in 2014-15:

Obviously one of the best teams in the ACC.  Likely another Top 5 finish Nationally.  Anything short of a deep run in the NCAA Tournament would be a major disappointment.  Look for Duke to be less perimeter oriented than recent seasons with the emergence of Okafor.  They have struggled with perimeter defense the past few years, leading to early tourney exits. How well they defend dribble penetration could determine the season.  But with a sensational 7 footer protecting the rim, things should get better on that end of the court.  Expect a Sweet 16 at worse, but if all goes to plan, a few set of nets to be cut down.

How they match-up with the 'Canes:

It's difficult for any team to match-up with the kind of talent Krzyzewski has accumulated in Durham. But Miami might be able to find some success if dribble drives remain an Achilles heel for Duke.  Angel Rodriguez, Manu Lecomte, Sheldon McClellan, and James Palmer will likely see a lot of high ball screens in an attempt to get to the rim and finish, or dish to open shooters.  However as much as I love Tonye Jekiri, avoiding foul trouble against Okafor seems like a long shot.  The overall depth of Duke's front court, also makes this match-up less than favorable for UM.

Stay tuned for more ACC Team previews as we count down to Tip Off