Creighton was the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the country with 41.4% accuracy this year, while Duke was the third best team in the tournament at defending the three, behind only Syracuse and Wisconsin, in allowing only 29.4% from opponents. But something had to give. Duke’s defense on the perimeter was so tough that it took Creighton more than six minutes to even get off a three-point attempt. Doug McDermott made that one, but Creighton missed their next 13, not hitting again until 32 minutes later when Austin Chapman’s meaningless shot made it 62-50 Duke with 1:24 to play.
As expected, McDermott turned in an outstanding performance for the Blue Jays, scoring 21 points. However, it was not enough to overcome the talent of the Blue Devils, as Duke defeated Creighton 66-50.
Coming into the tournament, 2-seeds Duke and Florida ranked ahead of two of the 1-seeds in the Breitbart Sports Alphabetical Guide, and both were impressive Sunday. Florida easily handled Minnesota, and Duke had little trouble with Creighton en route to a Sweet 16 showdown with Michigan State.
In advancing, Duke overcame serious foul trouble from Mason Plumlee and poor shooting from Seth Curry. The Blue Devils’ two leading scorers scored 10 and 17 respectively. Instead, it was Rasheed Sulaimon who led the team with 21 points. The freshman, who averages 11.4 ppg, also contributed 5 rebounds and shot over 55% from the field in the win.
However, Duke played great perimeter defense to contest Creighton’s biggest strength: three-point shooting.
Moving forward, the Blue Devils will face the first team in the tournament that can compete with them athletically in Michigan State. The Spartans have been very impressive and could be a serious threat to the higher seeded Duke.