Duke Blue Devils vs. NC State Wolfpack Pick & Prediction MARCH 14th 2024

Duke has had several days to stew over a loss to fierce rival North Carolina.

However, the No. 11-ranked Blue Devils know what time of year it is. So that means the setback needs to be in the rear-view mirror when they open Atlantic Coast Conference tournament play Thursday night with a quarterfinal matchup against 10th-seeded North Carolina State in Washington.

“It’s postseason time,” Duke star Kyle Filipowski said. “We’re in a great position, going to keep ourselves in that position, and we’ll do what we do.”

The second-seeded Blue Devils (24-7) are well-rested for the clash with the Wolfpack, who will play their third game in three nights.

North Carolina State (19-14) notched a 94-85 victory over Louisville on Tuesday and an 83-65 rout of Syracuse on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Duke was waiting to learn which team it would play and also spending substantial time fine-tuning things in practice.

Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer is expecting to see a highly motivated squad on the floor on Thursday.

“This group has always responded; I think it’s going to be nothing different now,” Scheyer said. “We have to get refreshed and regrouped and go into ACC tournament fresh and understand what we have to do to get better.”

Duke has dropped two of its last five games — the first setback was to Wake Forest.

But the Blue Devils recorded a 79-64 victory at NC State on March 4 behind 21 points from Jeremy Roach. It was their fifth victory in the last six meetings with the Wolfpack.

NC State received 27 points from DJ Burns Jr. The Wolfpack scored the first nine points before the Blue Devils took over.

NC State coach Kevin Keatts knows his club will need to step up its effort in the rematch.

“I learned they’re a really good basketball team,” Keatts said of the recent meeting. “I had a college coach that taught me a long time ago that early leads don’t last. I knew that they would make a run. They did a good job.

“They’re talented. Every ranking that they have, that’s what it is. Obviously, we’re excited about the opportunity.”

NC State didn’t encounter much trouble in the 18-point victory over No. 7 seed Syracuse on Wednesday. The Wolfpack led by as many as 24 points.

Four players had 15 or more points in a contest in which the Wolfpack scored 30 points off 19 Syracuse turnovers.

Jayden Taylor had 18 points and nine rebounds, DJ Horne added 16 points and four steals, Michael O’Connell also scored 16 points, and Burns had 15 points.

Horne was back after missing the Louisville game due to a hip flexor, an injury that occurred in the regular-season setback against Pitt.

“To get hurt with the last couple games of my season remaining, it was definitely tough on me mentally,” said Horne, “but my teammates, my coaches and the staff did a great job getting me treatment and making sure my head stayed in it.”

Another key player against Syracuse was forward Mohamed Diarra, who had 14 rebounds and a season-high six assists to go with eight points.

“This week, we know if you lose, it’s over. We go home. The season ends,” Diarra said. “We don’t want the season to end like that. That’s why we play with both inspiration and with more energy. We give everything we’ve got.”

–Field Level Media

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