Rams draw Duke in opening round

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- Dale Layer won't need a score card or an introduction to first round opponent Duke. The Colorado State coach is very familiar with the coach and the team the No. 14 seed Rams will face Thursday in the Salt Lake City and the West Region of the NCAA Tournament. "Having spent 10 years in North Carolina I have seen them practice and have seen them play a lot of games at Cameron Indoor Stadium," said Layer, who coached at Queens College in Charlotte from 1988 to 1998.

"They practiced in our gym at Queens College once or twice in preparation for the ACC Tournament so in a lot of ways I am very familiar with the Duke program."

And Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

"Coach K has always been very gracious," Layer said. "He is a Hall of Fame coach and it will be quite an honor to play him."

Rams players roared their approval when the pairing was announced Sunday as an overflow crowd looked on in the auditorium of the McGraw Center. It will be the team's first NCAA appearance since 1990.

"I am excited, I think we are all excited," said senior forward Brian Greene, who hit the game winning shot that beat UNLV 62-61 in the Mountain West Conference championship game. "It is an opportunity to play the premiere program in the country."

"Everybody looks at it as they are great and we are going to be great underdogs," Greene added. "We were underdogs all last week so we have gotten used to it."

The announcement capped an unbelievable week for Colorado State (19-13) which began with the team filled with uncertainty whether it would play beyond its Mountain West Conference tournament game against Wyoming, a team that had beaten them seven straight times.

The Rams eliminated Wyoming, 74-71, stunned Brigham Young 86-80 two nights later and then earned the automatic bid by beating UNLV. Colorado State hadn't beaten any of these teams this year let alone won a Mountain West tournament game.

"We were in a little bit of a slump at the time," Greene said. "We knew we would pull out of it eventually and picked a great time to do it."

"Our guys have persevered through a lot of things," Layer said. "They have great character, great work ethic, good people and good things usually happen when you work hard and you have good people."

Their reward is playing a team that won its 15th straight ACC postseason game and gave Krzyzewski his eighth title in 12 tries.

By coincidence, Layer and several Colorado State players watched with interest as the 12th-ranked Blue Devils (24-6) rallied from a15-point deficit to beat North Carolina State 84-77 and win their fifth straight ACC title.

"Sure we watched them," center Matt Nelson said. "We talked that the scouting report would be like a phone book for us."

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