Preview: Duke (4-0) v. Michigan (3-0)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Wolverines who tip off in the final of the 2K Sports Classic benefi ting Coaches vs. Cancer on Thursday night in MSG. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning at 7:00 PM EST.


Duke (4-0) vs Michigan (3-0)
New York, N.Y. - Madison Square Garden
TV: ESPN2 / Tip: 7:00 PM E

Program Vitals
Conference: Big Ten
Nickname: Wolverines
Colors: Blue and Maize
Head Coach: John Beilein (2nd season)
Career Record at Michigan: 13-22

Projected Starters:
12 Anthony Wright (6-6, 235, So.) – 3.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
32 Zack Gibson (6-10, 220, Jr.) – 6.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg
 1 Stu Douglass (6-3, 175, Fr.) – 5.3 ppg, 4.0 apg
 3 Manny Harris (6-5, 185, So.) – 23.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4.7 apg
15 David Merritt (6-4, 170, sr.) – 4.0 ppg

Key Reserves:
34 DeShawn Sims (6-8, 235, Jr.) – 15.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg
44 Kelvin Grady (5-11, 170, So.) – 3.0 ppg
 0 Zack Novak (6-5, 210, Fr.) – 2.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg
22 Jevohn Shepherd (6-5, 215, Sr.) - 2.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg

Storylines For Michigan:

How They Got Here:
After struggling in the second round against Rhode Island, the Blue Devils pulled away from Southern Illinois in the second half on Thursday to win going away. On the other hand the Wolverines crashed the party by upsetting No.4 UCLA 55-52 in the evening's second semi final behind DeShawn Sims' 18 point performance.

Series History:
This will be the 26th meeting between the Blue Devils and Wolverines with Duke holding a commanding 18-7 series lead. Duke has won the last six meetings and the games have not been close. Over that six game period, which includes games in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2007, the average score has been 99-72 in favor of Duke.

Injury Report:
Duke point guard Greg Paulus continues to rehab from an injury to his right forearm.

Defensively Michigan Will Slow You Down:
Michigan runs just two traditional guards most of the time and take pride in using their perimeter athleticism to play stingy man-to-man defense. When they are facing a weaker outside shooting team the Wolverines will drop into a 1-3-1 zone.

It's the same system Beilein has been using at each of his coaching stops and the one he hopes will help restore the Wolverine program to its once proud status among the nation's elite. The second year Michigan head coach will hope the man-to-man style will be able to slow down the Blue Devils as he looks for his first victory against Duke. To this point the defense has not allowed any opponent to score more than 56 points on the season which includes UCLA's 52 points showing last night.

Make Sure To Lookout For...
Sophomore scoring guard Manny Harris - a 6'5 slasher out of Detroit Michigan and former four star prospect in the class of 2007, has emerged as the team's best all around player as a sophomore. Harris was named MVP of the Ann Arbor Regional of the 2K Sports Classic benefi ting Coaches vs. Cancer after putting up a combined 28.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in the two games while shooting 66.7 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from the perimeter, and 87.0 percent from the foul line. He followed that up with 15/5/4 against UCLA on Thursday.

The scoring punch shouldn't come as a surprise after Harris led the team in scoring and minutes a season ago as a true freshman. However, Harris' improved commitment to crashing the boards has been a welcomed addition to his game as a sophomore. In addition, Harris has also taken the role of the team's defacto playmaker, using his offensive ability to draw defenders before finding the open man (4.7 assists per game).

Michigan's other big weapon is power forward DeShawn Sims - another former four star prospect out of the class of 2006. Sims comes off the bench as the team's sixth man, but has emerged as the most consistent scorer inside - averaging 15.7 points and 8.0 rebounds. A season ago he earned honorable mention for all-conference honors while averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

True freshman Stu Douglass is one of four new players on the Michigan roster this season and has started the first three games of his career. Douglass has the ability to play both guard positions (point and scoring) and could be the team's best true perimeter shooter.

Contrasting Styles of Play:
Much like their game against Southern Illinois, the Blue Devils will once again be facing an opponent who is content to play games in the mid 60s while Duke would much prefer a high scoring affair. Duke seemed destined for a game in the Salukies' and Wolverines' comfort zone before taking command in the final 12 minutes of the game.

Fearless Predicitions

After being M.I.A. for the first three and a half games of the season, the Blue Devils got a much needed lift in the second half against Southern Illinois when Gerald Henderson erupted for 20 points. Henderson will probably called on to check Harris on the defensive end while Duke will matchup Kyle Singler with Sims on the interior. It will be crucial for the Blue Devils to remain patient against a very tough Wolverine defense, while looking to get another big game from Henderson. If Duke can get another solid performance from Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, and Miles Plumlee in the middle (combined 18 points and 13 rebounds in 44 minutes), they should be well on their way towards claiming another preseason tournament title.

Prediction:

Duke 76
Michigan 64


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