Blue Devils will prove to be too much for Huskies
Well it's almost all said and done. Two more games to go and another title will be handed out. Duke University and the University of Connecticut will meet this Saturday in San Antonio in what I consider to be the game that will provide us with the 2004 National Champion.
We all remember UConn on the cover of ESPN at the start of the season and all the hype that surrounded this team, but Duke was also considered a favorite to win it all. Both of these teams have provided many great moments, the most recent in 1999 when UConn won it all. However we Duke fans still have the sting of wins in 1990 and 1991 to hold onto.
Duke will win its matchup against the University of Connecticut Huskies this Saturday because of a number of reasons; none is larger than Mike Krzyzewski. Krzyzewski is college basketball's coaching genius. It does help that he has one of the best teams year in and year out in college basketball, but his planning and game preparation are matched by few, which translates into Duke being highly ranked and taking the championship this year.
Here are the stats: Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has 64 NCAA tournament victories. Just in case you are keeping track that is 29 more than the next-closest coaches, who are North Carolina's Roy Williams and Arizona's Lute Olson with 35 NCAA wins apiece during this period (since 1985). Sure, Jim Calhoun is a great coach and his team will be ready to play; however, the Devils will be too much to handle, and it will be the Blue Devils who return to Cameron triumphant.
The teams match up very well. Ben Gordon, UConn's star, has that game breaker ability as does Emeka Okafor, who is arguably the best college player in the country. In Sheldon Williams Duke has an emerging star who will be the guy Duke depends on to shut down Okafor.
The next question is who will cover Gordon? Will Duke have to implement a zone in order to contain the lightning quick Gordon, or will Chris Duhon, who seems to be Duke's ageless wonder, provide the veteran tenacity to guard Gordon?
Another great matchup will be Daniel Ewing going face to face with Rashad Anderson, who lit up Alabama for 28 in UConn's last game. Duke has the three point shooting ace in J. J. Reddick, who has a sweeter stroke than Ken Griffey Jr. before the whole Cincy thing. UConn will look to control Reddick with Taliek Brown, a seasoned three-year starter at guard. He is no Rickey Moore, however, and can't expect to keep the hot-handed kid from Virginia on ice all game.
Josh Boone, one of UConn's stellar freshmen, will get a course in first-year ball when the newest name in blue uses and abuses him. That name is Luol Deng. You know the school. What you might not know is that this kid proved he is ready for the big time with his play in the final minutes of Duke's game against Xavier. Deng provided the Blue Devils with a spark, contributing a nice assist and adding several key points down the stretch to grab the trip to the final four.
If UConn is going to come out of this game with a chance to play for the National Title, the team can exploit Duke's one major weakness, which is its lack of depth. If Okafur and Boone can pound the inside and get Williams in foul trouble early, then Duke will be forced to go to their sub-par bench.
My prediction for this game is Duke 75 and UConn 67. Bring on the title game. You heard it here first.
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