TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume VII, no. L - March 28, 2004
Welcome to this edition of the seventh (it *is* sort of getting ludicrous now) season of Two Dukies Pick the ACC. Rob and Matt invite you to sit back, hike admission prices at Disneyland, totally screw up everything possible as a coach and yet get rehired by another school, hit the bars with Ray Lewis and Abe Keita, and see if there's anything going on below. Or don't, and you'll probably come out about the same; we did.
The TWO DUKIES name and material are, for some outrageous reason, affiliated with http://www.dukies.com, and for even more abstruse motivations, copyright 2004 Rigel Enterprises, Ltd. All rights reserved, and even though you had reservations yourself, we're glad you showed up anyway.
Matt's comments in blue.
Rob Mac K's picks in green.
KANSAS (24-8, 12-4 Big 12) (4) v. GEORGIA TECH (23-9, 9-7) (3)
The only real question here is who had the easier, all-fall-down-style path-clearing to the Final Four? Was it Connecticut, who honestly did not look very good as a team on Saturday in blowing out an empty-tank Alabama team? Or Kansas, which now stands poised to go to its third straight Final Four as a result of UAB's similar effort in the regional semifinal?
Probably Kansas, but in any event, here comes this Team Bus Game between the Jayhicks (who are admittedly less odious now that Deputy Dawg has taken his act, uh, elsewhere) and the BugThugs, who will probably be playing without Elder, who has a sprained ankle. If Elder does play, you'd have to expect him to be pretty limited.
That wasn't a problem against Nevada - - at least, the Thugs won, anyway - - but against Kansas, the Insects could certainly use a full complement of players. After all, the Bees have not exactly torpedoed their way through the tournament thus far, have they? No, they haven't, and frankly, this could very well be the end of the line for Hewitt's Hoods.
The offsetting factor between two teams that are relatively even, from a statistical standpoint, is that Kansas probably not played a team that plays the Coats' level of defense, except Oklahoma State, who beat the Jayhicks like a drum at Gallagher-Iba in the teams' only meeting, and Texas, who beat Kansas twice in two opportunities. That does not bode well for Self and company.
Difficult call here. It's always possible that Jack, Lewis, Bynum, et al. could get really hot and make this a game by keeping the scoring down and the field goal shooting efficient on the BugThugs' end, but without Elder, it's going to be pretty difficult to outscore Kansas. Incidentally, I just noticed that Tech's official site says - - and I'm not making this up - - that "Tech is so good that it didn't even need its leading scorer" to beat Nevada. Oh, brother. That makes you want to pick Kansas right there - - almost.
I'm sure Elder will play, but Kansas - - in a story that the national media never really picked up on - - got four projected home games in its bracket and will definitely have the crowd. I fail to see who will contain Wayne Simien, and then you have the Elder factor. I think that Kansas will go to the Final Four yet again, which will have the amusing byproduct of minimizing Horseface's accomplishments.
Kansas 85, Georgia Tech 79.
Kansas 84, Georgia Tech 80.
XAVIER (23-10, 10-6 Atlantic-10 West) (7) v. DUKE (27-5, 13-3) (1)
First off, a very strong tip of the hat to St. Joseph's. No, they weren't as good as their record. However, they were better than I thought, and they gave Oklahoma State more of a game than I thought they possibly could, even if they were only there because Skip Prosser inexplicably went into a zone defense for three possessions, resulting immediately in two threes from Pat Carroll. Great call, Skip -- they don't have an inside presence, they have three great three-point shooters, you're not in foul trouble, they are, and you fall back into a zone. Bang! Six points. And you lost by four. Good thinking.
That nonsense aside, in all seriousness, St. Joseph's had a very good season and was definitely better than I thought they were. They may not have the shot they had this year for a while, although I bet Delonte West sticks around, but they should be heartily congratulated on their achievement. Well fought, guys.
On to the team that beat St. Joseph's for the Hawk's other loss this season, Xavier. The similarities between this team and Duke's previous opponent are remarkable, except that the Musketeers do not rebound, have as much of an inside presence, or shoot free throws as well as Illinois. They do not play defense nearly as well, either, but they do shoot the three-pointer a bit better.
Chalmers and Sato are about the same sort of guards as Brown and Williams, and there's even a third guard in Finn, and they can all shoot it. However, how many teams has Xavier seen this year who play Duke's brand of defense? The Musketeers beat Texas because Karl Hess (yup - - but relax, he's not working this game) and company kept whistling the Hornies for fouls and sending the Muskrats to the line. I doubt that Xavier will shoot more free throws that Duke in this one, and assuming that Duhon, who is mounting one of the most courageous performances in NCAA Tournament history, plays similar defense on Chalmers as he did on Williams, Chalmers is going to have trouble adapting.
Williams should dominate inside, once again, although Myles is a good post player. However, do remember that yes, Xavier is hot, and yes, the stats are impressive, but they were assembled against less-than-sterling competition - - Xavier lost some bad, bad games this season, including Indiana, BALL STATE, yes, BALL STATE, Iowa State, and a sweep at the hands of Duquense.
That really sums it up right there. If the Dukes could sweep Xavier, can Duke beat the Riflemen to advance to the Final Four? When Krzyzewski is 9-1 in regional finals, with only that disgusting . . . oh, never mind about that game . . . ? We'll see.
Deng is going to be just as key as he was against Illinois, and I sense that Duke will probably sink more threes and get to the line more than they did against Illinois. If so, look out. If not, this could be anyone's game. It all comes down to this: who wants it more? Let's find out. Great season thus far, and let's keep it going. We've really enjoyed it and would like to keep doing so.
Duke 81, Xavier 71.
Duke 84, Xavier 77.
Last Edition: Rob 3-0 (1.000) Matt 2-1 (1.000) Guests 0-0 (0.000) This Season: Rob 75-32 (0.701) Matt 74-33 (0.692) Guests 3-0 (1.000) TD in Guest Editions: 6-0 (1.000)