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The 3 Reasons Why Duke Beat UNC-Wilmington In The First Round Of The NCAA Tournament

Duke basketball players lined up for the National Anthem.

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The Duke Blue Devils, the defending national champions, are still alive. Duke, the 4-seed in the West region, outlasted UNC-Wilmington, the 13-seed, 93-85. Duke's victory means the Blue Devils will next get either Yale or Baylor on Saturday. How did they get it done?

Here are the three reasons Duke prevailed over UNC-Wilmington Thursday afternoon.

1. Marshall Plumlee

Simply put, Plumlee had a career game. The Duke senior finished an incredibly efficient 9-of-10 from the field, which included a number of put-back dunks off of offensive rebounds. Plumlee also pulled down eight rebounds, blocked three shots and scored 23 points before fouling out with just over two minutes to play. If there was one player on the floor who made the biggest difference, it was Plumlee.

2. Rebounding

Duke out-rebounded UNC-Wilmington, 40-34, which mattered a great deal, given the fact that the Seahawks shot 42% from three-point range. It wasn't just Plumlee hitting the boards either - Grayson Allen pulled down 10 rebounds, with Brandon Ingram chipping in nine.

3. Foul trouble for the Seahawks

UNC-Wilmington racked up 33 fouls to just 18 from Duke. Three different players - C.J. Gettys, Craig Ponder and Devontae Cacok - fouled out before it was over. It resulted in 43 free throw attempts for the Blue Devils, and it was a huge difference in the game.