Midwest – No. 3 Duke vs. No. 14 Mercer

Posted Mar 16, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview, Breakdown & Pick: Midwest Region – No. 3 Duke vs. No. 14 Mercer

- 60-Second Video Analysis On Each Team

Line: Duke -14
Why To Pick Mercer: Can the Bears give Duke a battle? They can score, they love to get the three up and rolling, and the move the ball around well and can hit the boards. They might not have any talent, but they're a good team that does a little of everything right. If Duke isn't bringing it's A game, it could get tagged.
Why To Pick Duke: Mercer just has no answer for Jabari Parker. There's no interior defense against the strong presences like Duke has, and it could be a rough day on the boards if all the Blue Devils are active. The Bears might have enough to hang around, but once they collapse in to to stop Parker, the threes will come.
The Pick: Duke 82-71. Mercer will provide more of a battle than Duke might like, and it'll fight until the end, but there won't be any drama. The Blue Devils will get up early and stay there.

Duke Blue Devils
Head coach: Mike Krzyzewski Record: 26-8 Conference: ACC What You Need To Know: The Blue Devils have been vulnerable at times, but Coach K gets the most out of his team in the NCAA Tournament – this squad is built to be dangerous in March, able to hurt teams in several different ways. Amile Jefferson is tough inside and can control the glass, and forward Rodney Hood and guards Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and Andre Dawkins all can score either by going to the bucket or by knocking down the open jumper. Freshman Jabari Parker, however, is the star of the show, and his all-around skills make him difficult to contain – this might be when he takes his game to a whole other level. He's a threat to go for 20 and 10 every time he hits the floor, and while teams will focus on shutting Parker down, others have the ability to step up. Duke lives and dies by the three, but when the offense struggles from the perimeter, it will look inside to Parker.
Strengths:Scoring, Three Point Shooting, Assist-Turnover Ratio
Weaknesses: Blocked Shots, Field Goal Percentage Defense, Rebounding
How Far Will They Go?: This is a good team, not an elite one, and certainly not a national title team. If the threes aren't falling, there will be problems even if Parker is going off. Duke will get by Mercer, but it'll have a hard time getting through to the second weekend, if the defense isn't getting the job done inside.

Mercer Bears
Head coach: Bob Hoffman Record: 26-8 Conference: Atlantic Sun

What You Need To Know: The Bears love to push the tempo and do a great job of moving the basketball to set up teammates. They also hit the boards hard and play just enough defense to force opponents to work harder than they might like for an open look. Guard Langston Hall can score inside and out, and he can get to the line, but he does most of his work from the perimeter while doing a great job of using his jumper to set up drives to the bucket. Daniel Coursey holds down the fort in the paint and is a good shot blocker, and Bud Thomas is the kind of versatile senior who can be the glue in the glare of the NCAA Tournament.
Strengths: Three Point Shooting, Assists, Shooting
Weaknesses: Steals, Turnover Margin, Blocked Shots
How Far Will They Go?: The Bears will battle hard against Duke before watching the rest of the tournament from the couch.