Duke Blue Devils
Saturday @ 8:47 PM
The West Virginia Mountaineers hadn’t faced a team with a seed rank better than #10 before they met the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet 16. Many thought preparing for the Wildcats with #15 Morgan State, #10 Missouri and #11 Washington would lead the the Mountaineers demise and many people were proved wrong when West Virginia knocked off Kentucky 73-66 last Saturday. It certainly didn’t hurt that Kentucky missed their first twenty three-point attempts (they finished 4-of-32), while West Virginia was the complete opposite cashing in on eight treys in the first half (surprisingly they did not record a two-point basket in the first half and still won the game). A huge reason Kentucky struggled so much was because of the defence the Mountaineers play because they play stellar ball on both offensive and defensive side of the court. With the recent injury to Bryant (see below), its hard to say how the absence of Bryant will effect their defence. The Mountaineers do a fabulous job of spreading the ball around and finding the open man for the best-chance shot and the team is lead by a trio of forwards who all average double digits in points while combining for an impressive 21.7 rebounds a game. Da’Sean Butler leads the way with 17.4 points but he knows night-in-night-out he can reply on Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks to help carry the load. Point-guard Darryl Bryant puts up just under ten points a game and enjoys being able to dish the ball off to his three big-men down in the paint or even for an out-side jumper. The problem is, “Truck” Bryant broke his foot earlier on last week and is being fitted for a shoe that relieves pressure. Bryant is expected not to play but Butler was optimistic when asked and said he hopes ‘truck’ will be able to suit up. When it comes to size, having the three forwards at 6’7″, 6’8″ and 6’9″, West Virginia has decent size but the fact they can shoot the three ball as good as any team in the country makes them scary. Since a handful of losses early in the 2009-10′ season against Notre Dame, Syracuse, Villanova, Pittsburgh and UConn, the Mountaineers have picked it up and knocked off wins in their last 10 games which included a Big East championship (their first ever).
The Duke Blue Devils, as I stated at the start of the tournament are always a team that can contend year after year to win the national championship. With that being said, the past five years, the Blue Devils haven’t been able to get past the sweet sixteen round but the fact they got rid of what was haunting them most and were able to move onto the Elite Eight this year… watch out. Getting past Purdue to face Baylor in the elite eight was something that the entire Blue Devil nation knew they University needed. Duke is known for their basketball and when you hear the word ‘Duke’, the only thing that comes to mind is basketball… that or Nukem’… remember that game? Duke Nukem? ahh good times. Anyways, Duke started off the tourney strong with 1st and 2nd round wins over Arkansas Pine Bluff and California, followed by wins against Purdue and Baylor. With West Virginia now on the slate, Duke plans continue what they’ve done all season and depend on the stellar play of the three S’s, Joe Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. Against Baylor, Kyle Singler was held scoreless in the first half while Jon Scheyer only had only 6 points. The Blue Devils bench stepped up and put in 37.5% of Duke’s points in the first 20 minutes and if the 6th, 7th and 8th men on the team can put up points to allow the stars not only a much needed rest but also be a dependable back-up when anyone gets into foul trouble, it is massive. All season long Duke has watched Scheyer, Smith and Singler combine for fifty-three points a game, almost thirteen rebounds and ten assists and if the Mountaineers have to worry about guys coming off the bench as well as the three S’s… the game may not last very long but don’t and I repeat DON’T write off WVU that easy.
TheCoach’s Pick: Duke Blue Devils
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