Previewing Duke v. Yale - NCAA Second Round

A rematch with Yale awaits Duke in the NCAA Tournament's round of 32. The Blue Devils beat the Bulldogs by 19 back in November, but a lot has changed since that time for both teams.


23-6 Overall, 13-1 Conference 


F- 22 Justin Sears (15.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
F- 35 Brandon Sherrod (12.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
G- 01 Anthony Dallier (4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
G- 11 Makai Mason (16.3 ppg, 3.7 apg)
G- 21 Nick Victor (6.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg)



Point guard Makai Mason was a potential Duke recruit a few years ago, but was never offered (Duke was recruiting Tyus Jones exclusively).  But he’s done quite well at Yale, leading the team in scoring (16.3 PPG) and he’s fresh off a career best 31 point performance to help the Bulldogs upset Baylor in the first round.  Mason scored 13 points and handed out eight assists in the first match-up, but was held to 33 percent shooting from the field.

Inside the Bulldogs have three players averaging seven or more rebounds per game.  Senior forward Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod hit for their combined average of 14 boards in the first match up with the 6’6, 240 pound Sherrod doing the most damage inside with three offensive boards.  Meanwhile, Sears scored 19 points and grabbed six boards and was Yale’s most effective player in the first game.  



Duke beat Yale 80-61 in Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 25th.  In that game Amile Jefferson recorded 9 points and 12 boards.  Meanwhile, Yale got 11 points from guard Jack Montague, the team’s captain, was expelled from the school in February.  The loss of the two captains has forced both teams rally and adjust their respective approaches.   

Duke has has several months more deal with the loss of Jefferson and have moved Brandon Ingram to the big forward position where he will match up with Sears this time.  Ingram should have the advantage driving and on the perimeter, but Sears has proven to be a more energetic and determined rebounder.  

"Sears is a really good player. He would be an outstanding player in our league [the ACC]", Krzyzewski said after watching Sears in November. "And their two guards [Mason and Montague], you have to pay attention to them at all times."

What many fans will remember about that first game was the way Yale jumped out to a quick 9-0 advantage and maintained a lead throughout most of the first half.  Duke would eventually rally and take a two-point half time lead before blowing the game open in the second half.

Yale shot 48.5 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes and out-rebounded the Blue Devils 18-11.


The next time Duke loses it will mark not only the end of the season, but also the end of the Plumlee era in Durham.  Following a sluggish first half against UNC-W, Marshall Plumlee was noted for being extremely intense during halftime by his teammates.   The senior responded by scoring 19 second half points on the way to a 23 point, eight rebound performance that was the the difference between the two teams.

“Marshall was spectacular in the second half,” said Krzyzewski. “He was playing so hard that he had to sub out a few times, he was going so hard.”

Now, against Yale, he’ll once again have a big size advantage and will need to continue to finish around the rim while also staying out of foul trouble.


- Krzyzewski has won an NCAA-record 89 NCAA Tournament games, including 41 this century.

- Krzyzewski has guided Duke to 20 or more wins in 20 consecutive seasons, becoming the third Division I men’s coach to do so. Duke won 10+ ACC games for the 19th time in the last 20 seasons.

- Grayson Allen is on pace to be just the ninth player to lead Duke in both scoring and assists in a season. He could also be the seventh Duke player to average 20+ points and dish out 100 assists in a season.

- Among ACC freshmen this season, Ingram leads in scoring (16.9), three-point percentage (.414), rebounding (6.9) and double-doubles (8), and ranks second in blocks (1.4).

- Duke has made 310 three-pointers, the third-best single-season total in program history. Allen (83), Ingram (75) and Matt Jones (74) are the first trio in Duke history to each make 70+ threes in a season.

- Marshall Plumlee has dunked 57 times on the season, the sixth-best single-season total in program history. He is the only Duke player to start all 34 games this season.

They Said It:

"I think we might surprise some people." - Yale's Makai Mason on the matchup with Duke

The Prediction

A lot has changed from the first game in November, but a lot has stayed the same as well.  Yale still has very smart and capable guards who can fill it up.  Yale can still force mistakes and score off them.  And Duke is still the more talented team from top to bottom.   Duke has more size.  Another similarity to November is that Yale is playing with house money.  If the Bulldogs lost in Cameron at that time, nobody would bat an eye.  After all, it’s been more than a decade since a non-conference team won in Cameron.  But if Yale had won that game, it would have been one of the biggest stories/upsets in college hoops this year.  So, the Bulldogs could go into Cameron without pressure.  They certainly seemed loosed in that game and gave Duke an early scare.  Fast forward to March and Yale has already upset Baylor and, if they can repeat that against Duke, it would be quite the story.   So, again, the two teams enter Saturday’s game with one team having no pressure and the other dealing with a lot of expectation.  We would expect Brandon Ingram, Justin Sears, Makai Mason, and Grayson Allen to all have nice games on Saturday. The difference in the outcome will center on the rest of the rotations where we like some combination of Marshall Plumlee, Luke Kennard, Matt Jones, and Derryck Thornton to out-pace their Bulldog counterparts to send Duke on to the Sweet 16.

Duke - 78
Yale - 71

Blue Devil Digest Top Stories