After battling through a tough and physical Houston team, the Blue Devils will hope to build on their momentum when taking on N.C. State Sunday. Duke must look to continue its physical play in the low post, especially when battling against the Wolfpack’s 275-pound center DJ Burns Jr. Keep an eye on the post battle between the Blue Devils’ star center Kyle Filipowski and Burns throughout the contest. Duke big men Ryan Young and Mark Mitchell will also look to continue to make their presence known in the paint and help bolster the team’s interior defense. Both post players did well to carve out their stay in the interior, but they must stay out of foul trouble in this matchup. In the Sweet 16, Filipowski and Mitchell each finished the game with 3 fouls, and Young fouled out of the game late in the second half.

The Blue Devils used their physicality to keep the Cougars’ offense at bay, while also creating scoring opportunities in the heart of the defense — scoring 26 points in the paint. Against a scrappy N.C. State team, Duke must continue its streak of physical and determined play. In their last matchup, the Wolfpack scored 34 points on the interior, using their size to get looks close to the basket.

Yet again, Duke’s offensive output was bogged down by ball-security issues, forking the ball over 14 times and letting up 15 points off of those turnovers. The Blue Devils turned the ball over three times in their first four possessions, allowing the Cougars to generate easy offensive opportunities. Duke struggled to maintain momentum as turnovers continued to disrupt whatever offensive flow it had established. Against a hard-working Wolfpack squad, the Blue Devils must limit the opportunities they gift to their opponent.

In its first two games of the NCAA tournament, Duke was able to limit its mistakes and gain the upper hand in the turnover column. Jumping the passing lanes and ripping the ball led to quick points on offense, using a smaller, but faster lineup to get out in transition. Taking advantage of opponent’s mistakes also allowed the Blue Devils to score 21 points off turnovers when it first played N.C. State March 4. Head coach Jon Scheyer’s squad should look to take advantage again Sunday.

Duke will look to get back on track offensively after suffering on that end in its last matchup against Houston. The Blue Devils only shot 40.8% from the field against the Cougars after a relatively strong performance the game before — they shot over 50% from the field against James Madison. In its two previous meetings against the Wolfpack, Duke shot under its season average of 48% from the field — shooting 47% and 43% in the first and second games, respectively. The Blue Devils must look to find their stride early and rely on their offensive firepower to get them out of any tricky deficits or droughts.

With its plethora of offensive weapons, Duke must also share the ball early and often. Filipowski and senior guard Jeremy Roach showed up big against Houston. Roach scored 14 points in the second half and Filipowski dropped 16 of his own. The Blue Devils must rely on familiar faces to shoulder the majority of the offensive responsibility as they look to log another win.