March Madness

Preview: 1 Duke vs 8 San Diego State

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#1 – Duke

Outside of Jahlil Okafor missing a wide open dunk that he unnecessarily tried to throw down on a reverse and 10 missed free throws, Coach K didn’t have much to complain about in his team’s 85-56 demolishing of Robert Morris, who won a play-in game against North Florida for the right to play them. That missed jam was one of just two misses on another dominant night for Okafor. He had 21 points, three rebounds and two blocks, while Quinn Cook narrowly missed out on being the game’s high scorer with 22 (Robert Morris’ Rodney Pryor led all scorers with 23). Despite those gaudy scoring outputs, Justise Winslow may have been the best Blue Devil on the night. He flirted with a triple-double, with six points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. If it was a closer game and he played more than just 24 minutes, he very well may have ended up accomplishing the rare feat. Marshall Plumlee added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds for good measure on a night in which the Blue Devils shot a whopping 63 percent from the field and percent from distance; 28 of their 34 field goals were assisted. With that kind of offensive efficiency and widespread production, the Blue Devils should be able to get past a San Diego State team that can be offensively challenged at times.

– Yannis Koutroupis

#8 – San Diego State

Winston Shepard, Dwayne Polee II and J.J. O’Brien each scored in double figures on their way to a 64-76 victory over St. John’s, setting up a second round matchup with perennial powerhouse Duke. If the Aztecs’ upset bid is to come to fruition, it will take a total team effort. Big games from Malik Pope and Tre Kell along with solid performances from the aforementioned three could bring a sliver of hope. Unfortunately, interior defense is somewhat thin for the SDSU squad, which at times seems to have five of the same player on the floor at once. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor may very well be the national player of the year and fellow freshman Tyus Jones has come up big in big games. Throw in Quinn Cook, who plays hard every possession, and you have a serious challenge for Steve Fisher. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned Justise Winslow. Duke hit 10 three pointers against RMU shot a blistering 63 percent from the field and collected 39 rebounds to go with 28 assists. Look for SDSU to counter this Duke offense with either serious man pressure or some form of zone. With the interchangeable athletes Fisher has, a match up zone, switching screens and passing off cutters may be the answer.

– Cody Toppert

Who Wins?

Yannis Koutroupis: Duke wins

Cody Toppert: Duke wins

Dan Barto: San Diego State wins

Dan Barto has been with the IMG Academy basketball program since 2003. Prior to becoming the Head Skills Trainer, Barto was the IMG Academy basketball program’s Developmental Head Coach. Dan has trained over 100 current or former NBA players and coached over 40 Division I players. You can follow IMG on Twitter @IMGAcademy or on Facebook here.

Cody Toppert is a former standout player at Cornell University (one of the top three-point shooters in Ivy League history), who played eight years professionally (NBA D-League, Spain, Italy, Germany) and now serves as the Director of Basketball Development at ELEV|8 Sports Institute (Ganon Baker Basketball Academy). He trains professional players (five 2015 NBA Draftees) and coaches prep schoolers for Ganon Baker’s nationally ranked prep school program. Toppert also serves as a contributing writer for FastModel Sports. You can follow Cody and ELEV|8 on social media @Topp33 and @E8hoops.