Duke comes into the 2012-13 season ranked No. 8 in the nation, looking to rebound from a disappointing 2011-12 campaign, hoping to win the ACC, dreaming of a national championship and once again brimming with talent.
Georgia State comes into the year hoping to improve upon last year's sixth-place finish in the CAA. There might be a slight talent disparity in this contest.
Nonetheless, the game will offer a first look at the Blue Devils in a season that begins with high expectations and more than a few question marks. And if last season's first-round loss to Lehigh in the NCAA Tournament taught us anything, Duke shouldn't take Georgia State lightly.
Let's take a closer look at this season-opening game for each team.
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC
When: Friday, October 9 at 7 p.m. ET
Watch: ESNPU; WatchESPN
Betting Line: TBD
None to Report
What's At Stake?
For Duke, a win that should come rather easily. For Georgia State—a team that has advanced to the NCAA Tournament just twice in its history—the chance to pull off the biggest win in program history.
What They're Saying
Brett Friedlander of the Star News Online identified the issues from last year that Duke needs to improve upon this season:
Seth Curry created a stir this summer when he was asked about the difference between last year’s Duke team and the one that’s getting ready to start this season. “We like each other,” the senior guard said. “The biggest thing is trying to be more of a family. … It seems like everyone likes each other more this year.”
The comments were interpreted as criticism of now-former Blue Devil Austin Rivers, who left for the NBA after just one college season. And there’s some validity to that line of thinking.
The bottom line, however, is that chemistry and Rivers’ need to have the ball in his hands were only a small part of last season’s problems. The 2011-12 Blue Devils didn’t defend well, never found their identity offensively and just didn’t seem to have the mental toughness of a classic Mike Krzyzewski team.
Meanwhile, Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that a lot of new faces will be relied on for Georgia State this season:
Ron Hunter enters his second season as Georgia State’s men’s basketball coach and isn’t doing so lightly. The Panthers, 22-12 last year, will open the season at Duke on Friday.
Aside from the fact that it’s at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Hello!), the Panthers feature seven players who didn’t see a minute of action last year. Many of those, such as Manny Atkins, Markus Crider and R.J. Hunter III, will be counted on this season.
Most Important Player to Watch: Quinn Cook or Tyler Thornton, PG, Duke
We know that Duke will be led this year by Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly, and everyone is excited to see what incoming freshman Rasheed Sulaimon can do, but the key for the Blue Devils this season will be the play at the point guard position.
Listen, Duke is almost assured to win this game. What I'll be watching for is two things: Will Duke play better team defense and will a true point guard step up and run the show?
I'm considering this first game a dress rehearsal for both Cook and Thornton. I'm looking to see if they can create for the big guys in the post, and find Curry off the ball so the dynamic guard can do damage from outside.
Duke needs one of these two to become an unselfish playmaker this year and facilitate an offense that doesn't begin and end in one player's hands (cough, cough, Austin Rivers, cough). I'll be watching to see if one of these players can begin that process on Friday night.
Key Matchup: Devonta White vs. Seth Curry
Two guards that aren't afraid to bomb away from outside. Two players who are the returning scoring leaders on their respective teams. Two smaller guys who play bigger than their size.
Devonta White is the leader for Georgia State, and if he gets going from outside he has the potential to light up the Blue Devils. Then again, if Curry has the hot hand, Georgia State probably won't be competitive for very long.
Expect these two to put on a show. If White outplays Curry, Georgia State might hang around. But if Curry gains the upper hand, things might get ugly pretty quick.
It remains to be seen if Duke's defense has improved, so Georgia State might put up some points in this one. But let's keep it real—the Blue Devils have too much firepower for the Panthers. Duke wins easily, 95-63.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets aren't afraid to get emotional after a big win.