NC State is making the return trip to Durham with the opportunity to sweep Duke, and this is another situation where State can level up: the win over the Blue Devils a dozen days ago put State right on the NCAA tournament cut line, and a win Monday night can put it beyond that line without a doubt.
Duke’s not going to shoot as poorly as it did in the first meeting, that’s a damn-near certainty. It’s not just playing at home and finding those rims comforting that helps; there’s the added comfort in knowing that the refs in your building are worth at least a few points.
So the challenge is much steeper this time, but the route to victory is the same: make Duke work harder to score in the paint, because the Blue Devils aren’t comfortable with taking a lot of jump shots.
NC State did a great job of limiting everyone other than Vernon Carey, who shot 10-18 inside the arc. The rest of the Blue Devils shot 12-34 (35.3%) on twos, and NC State would gladly take that exchange again. State kept the randoms from having a big day, kept Duke off the offensive glass, and made Duke’s offense uncomfortable.
Can State do that again, and this time in the rat trap where few get a fair shot? Hey, there’s been weirder things.