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West Virginia vs Duke
Reaching the Final Four is the goal of every team that begins a journey in
the NCAA Tournament. The Duke Blue Devils and West Virginia Mountaineers have
both achieved that goal. However, neither of them wants to stop here. A win in
the Final Four would allow the opportunity to play for a National Championship.
This game pits an ACC heavyweight against a stalwart of the Big East. Who will
come out on top? Itís tough to say for sure, but we are reminded of a quote from
the movie Highlander: There can be only one.
The Duke Blue Devils have taken a relatively easy route to reach this point. They crushed Arkansas Pine-Bluff in the first round by a score of 73-44. They met the California Golden Bears in the second round. The Bears were the Pacific 10 Champions this year, but were no match for Duke who won the game 68-53. The Sweet Sixteen matched Duke with the Purdue Boilermakers who were ailing from the loss of Robbie Hummel. The Blue Devils again won, this time 70-57. The Elite Eight wasnít quite so easy. Duke had to beat Baylor. The Baylor Bears gave Duke everything they wanted and even led for a short while. In the end Duke effectively shut down LaceDarius Dunn, Ekpe Udoh, and Tweety Carter. They now find themselves among the Final Four teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Duke has everything needed to win this game. Senior leadership, stout defense, and great scoring ability make them a tough opponent for anyone. They also have one of the best coaches in the history of the game with Coach Krzyzewski (pronounced Sha-Chef-Ski). Seniors Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith provide a large scoring punch. They combine for 35.6 PPG. Scheyer finished second in ACC Player of the Year voting behind Marylandís Greivis Vasquez. He knows how to lead and take over a game. Freshman C Brian Zoubek provides a powerful rebounding punch. Throw in Kyle Singler who is second on the team in scoring at 17.6 PPG and the Blue Devils are a dangerous threat.
Duke is a great team, but you can bank on the fact that Coach Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers arenít scared. They enter this game fresh off a win over a team even scarier than Duke; the Kentucky Wildcats. If not for a slow start the Mountaineers wouldíve gone gate to wire against a team that had all but been christened this yearís champion. They parlayed tough defense and strong three point shooting into a win while playing without their starting PG. Before that win they easily beat Morgan State, Missouri, and Washington. West Virginia won the Big East Tournament this year. This team is playing very well and hasnít lost since a slip up on the road against UCONN in late February.
Senior F DaíSean Butler leads West Virginia in scoring at 17.4 PPG. He also gets 6.3 RPG. The senior is a clutch shooter also. F Devin Ebanks is also rock solid. He gets 12.0 PPG and 8.2 RPG. G Joe Mazulla has done well stepping in for the injured Darryl Bryant. He had 17 points in the Mountaineers win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight. It will be important for West Virginia to connect more often with high percentage shots in the first half. They were lucky to go lights out from three point range against Kentucky. In all likelihood that wonít happen again.
We have to stick with the team we have felt was the best in the Nation all
year long and that team is Duke. With the number at -2 or -2.5 we'll go ahead
and lay it. At this stage of course, nothing would be a surprise. It's
certainly not a strong play. But we feel Duke is the best team and they'll get
the win and cover, Duke by 7.