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Time for a statement

Right now, as you're reading this in your massive morning lecture, I am probably somewhere on I-85 North en route to the Comcast Center in College Park to cover tonight's game against Maryland.

As if that weren't enough to make you jealous, I might be mere hours away from realizing one of my lifelong, not-so-secret dreams. That's right, friends, tonight might be the night when I finally meet Scott Van Pelt, Terrapin alum and No. 1 SportsCenter anchor in the hood, G.

In fact, I signed up to cover tonight's game explicitly because I knew it's the one contest per year Van Pelt typically travels to see. I mean, it's not like the basketball is a draw or anything considering the Terrapins aren't our rivals (unless, of course, your name is Greivis Vasquez, in which case, I fear the Turtle and would prefer not to end up on a bulletin board anywhere within a 1,000-mile radius of the metropolitan D.C. area).

Anyway, I'm not sure what it is exactly about Van Pelt I love so much. Maybe it's the allusions to "Flight of the Conchords" or "Entourage" or his fantastic impressions of Stephen A. Smith. Maybe it's the long-winded yet endearing voice mail that elevated the former Golf Channel anchor to Internet fame or the consequent self-deprecating but poignant commencement address he gave at Wisconsin.

Whatever the reason, Scott, if by some small chance you stumble upon this little ditty, I pray you don't take out a restraining order against me. It's just that I figured sending texts gets real old, like tedious with the typing and whatnot. And that it's real easy just to actually write a rambling column, which I'm great at. Or at least I think I am. Sometimes.

On that note, I have a job to do, which is to write a bit about tonight's game because, not to put any pressure on anyone, but it's kind of a big deal-even bigger than me potentially meeting SVP.

Sure, the Blue Devil nation is celebrating Sunday's so-called season-changing 101-91 win over Wake Forest. Mike Krzyzewski even appeared on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" to perpetuate the new era of good feelings.

But in some regard, Sunday's victory failed to answer some lingering questions surrounding this Duke team in ways a win tonight in College Park could.

For example, against the Demon Deacons in Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils shot 54 percent from the field for the game and a hot 50 percent from 3-point range in the second half. Wake Forest committed 20 turnovers, the vast majority of which came in the opening period and seemed less forced than sloppy.

It's also worth noting the Blue Devils gave up 91 points at home, including 28 to guard Jeff Teague on a 10-of-16 shooting effort.

I don't think anyone can or would question Duke's ability to win when the team is hot from beyond the arc, puts up more than 100 points on its home floor and gets career nights from two of its three captains.

But this isn't something we learned Sunday. It's what we've known all season.

This current streak of emotion, barrage of offense and sense of creeping question marks bring us to tonight's battle in the Comcast Center-as hostile an environment as there is in the ACC-against a surging Terrapin squad coming off an upset of North Carolina and an off-the-charts triple-double performance from Vasquez.

If Sunday night's game at home was a must-win, tonight's game on the road would be a statement win.

For four of Duke's five losses this season have come away from the friendly confines of Cameron and of its four remaining ACC games, only one is at home. And Maryland isn't going to be the same team tonight as it was when it got blown out by more than 40 points in January at Duke.

But, then again, will Duke be the same team that obliterated Maryland?

Will Elliot Williams maintain the intensity he's put forth since St. John's?

Will Vasquez, unlike Teague, be kept at bay?

Will the Blue Devils get their first important road win since December?

Will I meet Scott Van Pelt?

Yes would be the ideal answer to each of these questions for all parties involved this side of the Potomac. I just have to hope, for Duke's sake, I don't finally get my chance to meet SVP... at Bentley's after the game.


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