The No. 15 Hurricanes will play one of their most anticipated games of the season at 7 p.m. on Monday night against the No. 20 Duke Blue Devils at the BankUnited Center. The game features two teams jockeying for position in the ACC standings and could provide either with the momentum needed to make a run at a regular-season conference title.
The Canes (13-3, 4-2) enter the game as a rare favorite over the Blue Devils and are hoping to build upon recent wins. After struggling in their first week back from winter break, the Canes rebounded nicely with two convincing wins over Boston College and Wake Forest this past week.
The Canes’ backcourt holds the key to a win on the offensive end. Redshirt senior guards Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan continue to excel on the ball, scoring 14 points apiece in the victory over Wake Forest on Saturday. Sophomore guard Ja’Quan Newton also looks as if he might garner a larger role offensively on Monday night. Newton is coming off of one of the best games of his career, an 18-point performance against Wake Forest, and will look to dismantle the Duke guards off the dribble.
However, the Blue Devils (14-4, 4-3) will arrive in Coral Gables with plenty of motivation. They slid in the rankings after losing three out of their last four games against ACC opponents and desperately need a win to stay in contention for a regular-season ACC title.
The Canes will have to focus defensively on sophomore guard Grayson Allen, who is averaging more than 20 points per game and tallied 28 in a winning effort against North Carolina State on Saturday. Freshman forward Brandon Ingram also poses a daunting task for Miami’s defense. Ingram is a seven-footer with guard skills and has been a major matchup issue for almost every team Duke has played. If the Canes can limit his impact on the game, they will put themselves in a nice position to get a second consecutive victory over the Blue Devils.
The Canes look forward to playing in front of a raucous home crowd and could separate themselves from a cluster of teams at the top of the ACC standings with a statement win. Even after losing three out of their last four games, Duke is still Duke. A win over the Blue Devils would provide the Canes with a much-needed marquee victory that their resume currently lacks.