Duke at Florida State Saturday, Jan. 10
Florida State is one of the early-season surprises, having knocked off then No. 5 Arizona on the way to a 12-2 start through Sunday. But are the Seminoles for real or just semi-contenders in the ACC? This home game against No. 2 Duke will be a good litmus test.
New Florida State coach Steve Robinson is technically not a Dean Smith disciple. But from 1988 to '95, as an assistant to Roy Williams at Kansas, Robinson studied under the man who studied under the Man, and he employs an offense that is virtually a clone of the one Smith used at North Carolina. The last thing Duke needs now is to face a team that resembles the Tar Heels; the Blue Devils have lost eight times in their last nine meetings with North Carolina.
Worse still for Duke was the loss on Dec. 27 of freshman forward Elton Brand, the Blue Devils' top scorer and rebounder, to a season-ending foot injury sustained in practice. Without him, Duke could be susceptible to a strong inside attack—like Florida State's, which features a rotation of 6'9" Corey Louis, 6'11" Randell Jackson and 7'2" freshman Karim Shabazz (below).
The flight to Tallahassee certainly won't seem the same to the Blue Devils as the bus ride to Chapel Hill, but Robinson and the Seminoles will do their best to make their guests feel as if they never left Tobacco Road.