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NC State vs. Duke, round 2: Jahlil Okafor remains tall, good at basketball

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 7 p.m. ET, Thursday, March 12

TV: ESPN/ACC Network (affiliates)

Online streamingWatchESPNTheACC.com

Radio: Sirius/XM 83, Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Duke vitals

Record: 28-3 (15-3)
Pomeroy ranking: No. 7
RPI: No. 5
Wins vs. Pomeroy top-100: 18
Best win: Virginia (No. 3 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: Miami (No. 54 in Pomeroy Ratings)

Adjusted tempo: 66.8 poss/40 minutes (ranks 76th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 122.8 (ranks 2nd)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 96.5 (ranks 63rd)

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Duke 2015 stats

The Duke offense in ACC games

Duke Offense -- ACC games only

eFG% (ACC Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 55.5 (1) 17.0 (9) 36.9 (2) 38.3 (2)


Duke has the second-best offense in the country behind Wisconsin. In ACC games the Blue Devils have averaged 1.18 points per possession, and that is one hell of a number to post in a major conference. In league games, essentially there was Duke and Notre Dame ... and everybody else. Those two averaged 1.15+ PPP, with third-place UNC at 1.11.

The Blue Devils have had brilliant balance thanks to the additions of Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, who are bulk shooters that score effectively inside the arc. Duke hasn't had to lean on the three, but it absolutely can if it wants to go that route--and this is why the Devils are terrifying.

The perimeter options are there, but so is Okafor, who hit 65% of his twos in league play. Okafor is a human cheat code who should already be earning millions in the NBA. Instead he's spending one year in college to showcase his absurd skills against overmatched frontcourt after overmatched frontcourt. I'm not entirely sad about that, feelings about Duke aside. Jahlil Okafor is just plain fun.

In the first meeting between these teams, Okafor finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. It was a good night for him, despite the Wolfpack's solid defensive game plan. Mark Gottfried chose to double Okafor much of the night, which paid dividends for stretches but was never gonna take him out of the game entirely.

State prevailed because Okafor's surrounding cast didn't help him much. Duke finished only 7-27 from beyond the arc; Justise Winslow was 3-13 from the field; Tyus Jones managed only four points. Okafor and Quinn Cook carried the Devils' offense that night, and the team scored 1.07 points per possession--that ain't bad--but it wasn't enough to win on an exceptional shooting night for the Pack.

The Blue Devils posted their worst effective field goal percentage of the season in that game. They've been held under 50% only five times all year. That level of brickitude is highly unlikely to happen again, so let's just dispense with it now.

Duke is going to shoot pretty well. They do that. They are very good. State needs to make up the difference everywhere else. Duke rebounded 36.4% of their misses in Raleigh, while turning the ball over on just 14.3% of possessions. They also got 26 free throws.

There is a ton of room for improvement for State's defense, and it will be necessary, assuming Duke isn't shooting the ball like Georgia Tech.

The Duke defense in ACC games

Duke Defense -- ACC games only
eFG% (ACC Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 49.1 (7) 17.8 (5)
31.6 (7) 25.0 (2)


Duke's defense has no obvious strength beyond its ability to avoid fouling, but no doom-portending weaknesses either. The Devils' biggest problem is that they have to play defense that is somewhat foul-averse, and that can snowball into indifferent defense. Okafor is not a great paint defender, and anyway is so valuable at the other end that he needs to avoid risks. If he's in foul trouble, then Marshall Plumlee is getting more minutes, which is bad bad bad.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Duke by seven.