Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP, File
Co-Written by Braden Wagle (Duke) and Austin Wodock (Indiana)
The Indiana Hoosiers travel to Durham, North Carolina tonight to take on the #3 ranked Duke Blue Devils and their highly touted group of freshmen led by RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson.
Indiana (5-1, 0-0 in Big Ten)
The Hoosiers come into this game off a 14 point win against UC Davis, a game in which the injury depleted Hoosiers found themselves down by double digits. Without Juwan Morgan’s 31 points and 10 rebounds in 40 minutes of play, the Hoosiers could be coming off one of the toughest losses in the Archie Miller era. The Blue Devils and Hoosiers met last year in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Bloomington where that #1 ranked Duke team took the win 91-81, in a game much closer and competitive than the final score indicates.
Keys to the Game
Minimize Offensive Rebounds for Duke – Duke is one of the most physically imposing teams in the country. Zion Williamson’s size and speed, RJ Barrett’s smooth scoring and Marques Bolden’s rim protection and length will give the smaller Hoosiers team trouble.
Shooting – The Hoosiers come into this matchup shooting 37.8% from the 3 Point Line, 55.1% from the floor and a measly 64.2% from the charity stripe. The Hoosiers are going to have to shoot much better than they did in their previous road game at Arkansas (33.3%, 46.4%, 60%) to even come close to Duke
Minimize Duke’s Offensive Strengths – IU has been one of the better defensive teams in the country through non-conference season. However, Duke may have two of the best offensive players in the country in RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish and not to mention the human bulldozer, Zion Williamson. The Hoosiers run a generally small, quick lineup that should run Duke off the three-point line but will struggle to compete down low. Duke is an inside scoring team which will challenge the Hoosiers’ strength and discipline in the post. If the Hoosiers can force Duke into bad outside shots and minimize points in the paint things should go well for the Hoosiers.
Austin’s Prediction – Duke is a young team but is already battle-tested after taking on a strong Gonzaga team in the Maui Invitational. The Hoosiers are one part young, one part experienced but not yet ready to make the leap to beating top five teams. Duke 82 IU 71
Duke (5-1, 0-0 in ACC)
Duke comes back from a solid trip to Maui that ended in disappointment. Last time we saw the team they fell to Gonzaga after RJ Barrett failed to make any of his final five shots. Cam Reddish got into foul trouble early, and it took a late comeback for the Blue Devils to even have a chance at the end. Before that, however, Duke had been on a tear. Duke had defeated #8 Auburn and of course, started the year by destroying then #2 Kentucky.
RJ Barrett leads Duke in scoring (22.8 ppg) entering Tuesday’s showdown, with Zion Williamson also over 20 ppg. This is the third time in four years Duke and IU have met in the ACC/Big Ten challenge with Duke winning both of the previous two games.
Keys to the Game
Get Cam Reddish and Tre Jones involved – Cam was very quiet against Gonzaga scoring only 10 points and spending time on the bench down the stretch, Tre battled early, but failed to take a shot in the final minute despite seemingly being very successful the rest of the game. If Jones and Reddish both get involved early, Indiana will struggle to contain Duke.
RJ Barrett – This has been the biggest knock on Barrett for a while. He is an elite scorer and playmaker, but can he make those around him better. For Duke to take the next step, not just tonight, but this season Barrett will need to start making those around him better.
Contain Romeo Langford – For the Blue Devils, shutting down Langford will be much easier said than done, however, if Duke can force others to beat them Indiana will have a long night. Langford is not only the Hoosiers leading scorer but also the starter for their offense and the key to any success IU plans to have this season
Braden’s Prediction – Duke is a young team but has already faced much bigger tests than the Hoosier. Duke will have learned from many of the mistakes that plagued them against Gonzaga and in the comfort of Cameron Indoor will cruise past the Hoosiers. Duke 97 IU 81