THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 2010 | 15
DUKE from page 11
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ability, indicating he might be more than a Taylor King-type spot-up shooter. Duke’s backcourt may be thin, but it is actually one of the nation’s best. Perhaps most importantly, Duke’s offense is balanced enough to withstand a disastrous effort from one of its top players come tournament time. Specifically, the kind of effort that doomed the Blue Devils last year—when Gerald Henderson went 1-of-14 from the field and Villanova crushed Duke by 23 points in the Sweet 16. With Zoubek’s rebounding providing the Blue Devils with many second-chance opportunities, and with the bevy of scorers at Krzyzewski’s disposal, this year’s Duke team seems fully capable of compensating for a poor performance by one of its best players. Lastly, Blue Devil fans should thank their lucky stars that the NCAA Tournament selection committee gave Duke such a clear path to the Final Four. A potentially scary second-round matchup against Rick Pitino’s talented Louisville team notwithstanding, Duke could draw a plummeting Purdue team lacking its most talented player, as well as a No. 2-seeded Villanova squad that has dropped five of its last seven games heading into the NCAA Tournament. Alternatively, the Blue Devils could face No. 5-seeded Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 and No. 3-seeded Baylor in the Elite 8, which would essentially amount to two true road games since both would be played in Houston, Texas. However, Duke matches up well against the Aggies’ guard-based lineup, and Blue Devil defensive stalwart Lance Thomas promises to be an imposing matchup prob-
lem for Bears center Ekpe Udoh. Any path to the Final Four is going to be riddled with tough games and many uncertainties, but Duke’s road is remarkably easier than that of Kansas—which the selection committee nonetheless dubbed the best of the No. 1 seeds. With a manageable road to Indianapolis and an emerging rebounding force in Zoubek to accompany the Big Three’s offensive production, Duke stands a good chance of bringing home the storied program’s fourth national championship and sending this year’s senior class out on top.
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Duke collapsed when Gerald Henderson struggled terribly against Villanova in last year’s Sweet 16.
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