According to Ken Pomeroy, Duke has a 13.6% chance of running the table in the regular season. There are only three games in which they have less than an 80% chance of winning. At Miami (68%), at Virginia (78%), and today's game at NC State (79%). If they win today their odds jump to 17%. Though, to be fair, his odds don't account for the injury to Ryan Kelly.
Here are the three keys to the game:
1. Can Mason Plumlee get to the rim?
Plumlee is having a Player of the Year type season, averaging 17.7 points and 11.4 boards. He draws almost 7 fouls per 40 minutes and he making 66% of his free throws. He's a beast on the offensive glass and in transition. But one area where he still doesn't look like a senior is with his back to the basket. He's just not that gifted of a post player, and many teams opt not to double him. 31% of his shots have come away from the rim, and he's only made 32% of them. It's not like these are all 17' jumpers either. The vast majority are post moves which often go awry. If he gets to the rim you're done.
2. How will the NC State freshmen handle the spotlight?
The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. The Wolfpack played at Michigan, so they've experienced a large and hostile crowd. How will they handle a large and friendly crowd? There are the distractions leading up to the game. There is the adrenalin during the game. These are new things the freshmen are dealing with for the first time. On Wednesday they played Georgia Tech at home. This is a slightly different animal.
3. Who wins the 3-point lottery?
Both of these teams are among the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation. Duke is No. 4, and NC State is No. 12. But they don't take that many. Duke is 206th in attempts, while NC State is all the way down at 325th. Still, the 3-ball is so important to both because they make such a high percentage. In NC State's only losses they shot below 30% in both games (27% combined). In the rest of their games they made 41%. If one team gets hot, that could be the ballgame.