NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No. 2 seed Duke will face No. 7 seed Vanderbilt in the second round of the NCAA tournament Tuesday night at 9:30 ET. The game will take place on Vanderbilt’s home court in Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tenn. The Blue Devils breezed through the first round, coasting to a 82-47 victory over No. 15 Samford and improving the program’s all-time record in the first round to 19-0. The Commodores, playing in their 13th consecutive NCAA tournament, advanced to the second round for the 9th time in the past ten years with a 60-46 victory over No. 10 seed Middle Tennessee Sunday.
Duke and Vanderbilt, two of the nations most storied programs, have met just five times before. Duke holds the historical edge in the series, having won three of the last four contests. Vanderbilt won the most recent meeting, though, a regular season matchup at Memorial Gymnasium in 2007. The winner of tonight’s matchup will advance to the Sweet 16 and play either Oklahoma or St. John’s in Fresno Saturday.
G Chelsea Gray (12.2 ppg, 6.0 assists per game)
G Shay Selby (6.0 ppg, 32.0 minutes per game in her team’s last eight games)
G Tricia Liston (11.5 ppg, 44.6 3-point percentage)
F Haley Peters (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rebounds per game)
C Elizabeth Williams (14.2 ppg, 3.7 blocked shots per game)
G Christina Foggie (17.5 ppg, SEC leading scorer)
G Jasmine Lister (12.4 ppg, 36.7 minutes per game)
F Elan Brown (5.8 ppg, 45 steals leads team)
F Tiffany Clarke (11.3 ppg, 57.4 FG%)
C Stephanie Holzer (11.0 ppg, 7.4 rebounds per game)
Questions to consider:
1. Will Duke survive Memorial Magic?
The Commodores have dominated in Nashville—they are 18-1 in Memorial Gymnasium this season and own a 414-93 all-time home record. Locals refer to Vanderbilt’s home-court advantage as “Memorial Magic,” but there are tangible factors that throw off visiting opponents. Team benches in the Coliseum are on the baseline, making it nearly impossible for coaches to communicate with players when the ball is under the opposite basket. The supports for the baskets are unique—hoops are situated at the top of a support arch rather than a single post. There is also no air-conditioning in Memorial Gymnasium, a factor the Blue Devils were acutely aware of Sunday night as temperatures inside the gym soared above 80 degrees during their win over Samford. All of this adds up to a true second round road test for second-seeded Duke.
2. Which balanced offensive attack will prevail?
Christina Foggie led the Vanderbilt this season with an SEC-best 17.4 points per game, but Jasmine Lister, Tiffany Clarke and Stephanie Holzer all averaged in double digits for the season as well. Lister led the Commodores in scoring in their win over Middle Tennessee with 19 points, picking up the team offensively while Foggie struggled through a 3-for-14 shooting effort. Such poor shooting is atypical for the Commodores, whose 47.1 field goal percentage ranks fourth in the nation. The Blue Devils offense mirror that of the Commodores statistically—Duke ranks sixth in the nation in shooting percentage and has four players averaging over ten points a game as well.
3. Will extra rest help the Blue Devils?
Duke pummeled Samford in the opening round, leading by at least 30 points for the final 12 minutes of the second half. With the game well in hand, head coach Joanne McCallie gave her starters valuable rest that may pay off in tonight’s game against the Commodores, especially considering the unusually hot and draining conditions of Memorial Gymnasium. McCallie used all nine of her available players, and freshman Ka’lia Johnson and senior Kathleen Scheer each played for more than half the game. Scheer and junior Allison Vernerey—who played 14 minutes against the Bulldogs—both provided valuable minutes to spell starter Elizabeth Williams, who is still nursing a right leg injury. With well-rested starters, McCallie may feel comfortable unleashing her aggressive full-court trapping press against a Vanderbilt team that has also experienced depth issues this season.