After the shocking loss to Lehigh last tournament, it seems unlikely that Duke will ever overlook a no. 15 seed again. Yet, looking at Albany‘s body of work; no one would blame the Blue Devils for looking a little bit ahead. Albany is not Lehigh. Lehigh was ridiculously underseeded at 15 and featured two top caliber players, one of whom, C.J. McCollum will probably play in the NBA. Duke was missing Ryan Kelly, and, in general seemed to be faltering at the end of this season. Meanwhile, this season, there is little to indicate that Albany is mis-seeded and Duke finished the regular season healthy and on a strong note. Still, for the sake of argument, if Albany were to somehow beat Duke, how would they do it?
Duke’s one big weakness all season has been rebounding and the Great Danes have actually been pretty good on that front, particularly in terms of defensive rebounding, though Albany easily outpaces Duke’s offensive rebounding mark as well. The big caveat here is the caliber of competition that Albany has been beating on the glass: dominating the America East Conference on the boards is a little simpler than doing the same in the ACC. Yet, it bears mentioning that tempo-free rebounding measures tend to be remarkably stable even when the level of competition changes. As strange as it is to say, it’s quite possible that the Great Danes could own the boards against Duke.