Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sweet 16 Preview: (2) Duke vs. (3) Villanova

(2) Duke Blue Devils:

Their Tournament so far: The Blue Devils won their first game over (15) Binghamton by 24 points. Duke had a balanced attack in which six players managed to get into double figures. Their second round game against (7) Texas was a bit closer, with Duke winning 74-69. Texas battled Duke all game and was within one point in the games final minute but couldn't come away with the upset. Junior guard Gerald Henderson led the Blue Devils with 24 points.

Hot Hand: Henderson has 37 points in two games and has been the catalyst for Duke. Sophomore forward Kyle Singler has added 27 points and led the Blue Devils in rebounding each game.

How they match-up with Villanova: The Blue Devils match-up well against the Wildcats of Villanova. They both play very similar style of offenses based around perimeter shooting and one big man in the middle. Villanova is a bit more physical and athletic than Duke which could give the Blue Devils some problems. Duke on the other hand play solid defense and have good shot selection.

X-Factor: Getting Gerald Henderson involved early. Henderson is the one player on Duke's roster who is as quick and strong as Villanova's starters. His inside-outside scoring ability makes him the Blue Devils top threat. Henderson presents a big match-up problem for the Wildcats. If he can get going early should be enough to send the Blue Devils to the next round.

(3) Villanova Wildcats:

Their Tournament so far: The Wildcats struggled out of the gate in their first game, going into halftime with a 10 point deficit to (15) American. They came out in the second half with a vengence and outscored American by 23. Villanova had two 25 point performances that night by senior forwards Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson. In their second game against (6) UCLA the Wildcats exploded for a 89-69 win. Villanova had six players in double figures and out rebounded the Bruins by 13.

Hot Hand: Cunningham has had 43 points so far in the tourney and is a big match-up problem for opposing teams. Anderson has been a good second option for the Wildcats with a combined 35 points. He has scored double figures in both of the games despite averaging only about 8.5 points per game during the season.

How they match-up against Duke: Villanova is actually the better shooting team, despite the fact that the Blue Devils were a higher scoring team this year. The Wildcats have a better inside presence than the Blue Devils and showed that this season with their tough Big East schedule. While not the most physical team, the Wildcats front court should have the advantage against the Blue Devils. Villanova is also a more athletic team which should help them on defense and to create room for open shots.

X-Factor: Working Dante Cunningham inside against Duke's Kyle Singler. Cunningham should have the advantage against Singler and the Wildcats need to exploit that. Let Cunningham go to the basket early and put Singler in a position where he has to foul. Duke doesn't have much depth with their big men and will be in big trouble if Singler sits a portion of the game with foul trouble.

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