Like Duke, the Bulldogs return just two starters from last year's team which finished 16-14 overall and 8-8 in the CIAA. And, like their hosts, Bowie State has been picked by the media to finish on top of their conference, having been named as the favorites for the CIAA's Northern Division.
Senior forward Carlos Smith, a 6-8, 230 pound power forward, is the team's top returning player. A season ago Smith ranked sixth on the roster in points (7.0 ppg), third in rebounds (5.1 rpg), and first in blocked shots (37). As he returns for his final year, Smith has been named to the preseason CIAA first team all-conference squad.
Bowie State's other returning starter is point guard Ray Gatling (6-1, 190), who was named as the team's top newcomer after transferring from the JUCO ranks at Bowie State's post-season banquet. Gatling averaged 9.0 points and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field. The senior will look to improve on his perimeter shooting as the team begins the year. A season ago Gatling connected on just 21.4 percent of his three point attempts (9-of-42).
Backup point guard Julian Williams (5-7, 150) is the most senior returning supporting cast member from a season ago, but that's not saying a lot. Williams played 288 total minutes in 2013, but saw his role steadily decline as the season wound down. He finished the year averaging 1.7 points per game, while shooting .250 from the floor.
Sophomore guard Justin Beck (6-2, 180) and junior forward Joel Clemmons (6-7, 225) were the other players who saw consistent action a season ago. Clemmons played 122 minutes on the year and averaged 1.0 points and 1.0 rebounds per game; while Beck played 86 minutes and averaged 1.3 points per contest.
As a team, Bowie State doesn't have a lot of height, with only five players standing 6-7 or taller.
On the other side of the court, Duke will welcome back 10 letter winners and two starters from last year's squad which went 30-6 en route to an appearance in the Elite Eight. Junior point guard is expected to be the starting point guard for the second consecutive season, while sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon is expected to be pushed by returning senior Andre Dawkins at the scoring guard position.
The rest of the starting five appears to be set with sophomore forward Amile Jefferson joining preseason all-ACC selections Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker.
Prediction: Duke 97 ... Bowie State 58