Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness: East Region Part 2

No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils:

Why they will win it all: The Blue Devils won the ACC tournament and were a top team all year. They have three players that can score any time they touch the ball, in sophomore forward Kyle Singler, junior guard Gerald Henderson and junior guard Jon Scheyer. All three players are shooting at least 36% from behind the arc. All three players averaged at least 15 points per game as well. While not a great defensive team they play very fundamental basketball and force a number of turnovers. Henderson is an athletic guard who can shoot the jump shot or go to the basket with equal skill. He has created problems all season for teams trying to guard him one-on-one.

Why they won't win it all: Duke is not a physical team they lack a true inside presence and are frequently out rebounded. They rely on the open 3 point shots and struggle when they are forced to score inside. The Blue Devils lack a true point guard to set up their shooters on perimeter and will struggle against teams with top guards. They lack the overall athleticism and physicality to play with a number of teams in the nation. While they have three good shooters they were a very poor shooting team overall averaging under 45% from the field. They are also not a very deep team and will struggle if any of their players get into foul trouble.

Player to watch: Gerald Henderson. Henderson is the one player on Duke's roster who presents a match-up problem for any team the Blue Devils play. He averaged 16.6 points per game this season and led the Blue Devils by shooting 47% from the field. He is a good defender and his quickness and streghth allow him to man up on just about anyone.

Prediction: The Blue Devils are vastly outgunned in this region and I believe will be upset in the second round by Texas. The Longhorns played below their talent level all year, but have the size and quickness that Duke can't compete with. If the Blue Devils manage to get by Texas they will have to face major obsectals in Villanova and Pittsburgh if they hope to make it to the Final Four.

Other teams to watch: The 3rd seed Villanova Wildcats are one of the best teams nobody is talking about. They got beat up some in Big East play this year but are a dangerous team. They won their only meeting against Pittsburgh and lost their regular season games to Louisville and Conneticut by a combined 7 points. Junior guard Scottie Reynolds and senior forward Dante Cunningham each averaged over 15 points per game this year. The 7th seed Texas Longhorns can be another dangerous team. They are led senior guard A.J. Abrams and junior forward Damion James. Each player has the ablity to take over a game and will present major match-up problems for any team they face. They have the talent they just need to harness it.

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