Preview: 16 Southern (19-12)

The march for a National Title begins in the familiar confines of the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday night as the top seeded Blue Devils host 16th seeded Southern in the opening round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Tip off is scheduled for 9:40 PM EST. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

1 Duke (30-3) vs. Southern (19-12)
Greensboro, N.C. – Greensboro Coliseum
9:40 p.m., CBS

Program Vitals
Conference: SWAC
Nickname: Jaguars
Colors: Blue, Yellow, & White
Head Coach: Rob Spivery  (1st year)
Career Record at Southern: 19-12 (304-280 Overall)

Projected Starters:
10 Chris Alexander (6-1, 185, Sr.) – 15.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.5 apg
25 Steffon Wiley (6-1, 180, Fr.) – 4.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg
33 Deforrest Riley-Smith (6-6, 210, Jr.) – 10.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
32 Peter Cipriano (6-9, 225, Sr.) – 10.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg
53 Jarrid Campbell (6-8, 240, Sr.) – 6.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg

Key Reserves:
30 Alvin Mott (6-6, 205, Sr.) – 7.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg
55 Ralph Hishaw (6-7, 210, So.) – 6.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg
 5 Brandon Wardlow (6-1, 185, Sr.) – 3.3 ppg
23 Javaris Bradford (5-10, 157, Fr.) - 1.9 ppg


Welcome To The Big Time: After winning the SWAC regular season title by a staggering four game margin, the Jaguars left little doubt as to which team was most deserving to dance. Southern cruised through the SWAC Tournament to earn the program's first NCAA Tournament bid since the 1993 season. That year Southern served notice on a national stage, upsetting Georgia Tech in the first round. In order to pull off a repeat performance, the Jaguars will have to accomplish a first in tournament history as no 16 seed has ever beaten a one seed.

The Series: This will be the first meeting between the Jaguars and Blue Devils.

Bringing Some Stability: After undergoing four coaching changes in the previous six years, Southern has finally found a calming influence in the form of 20 year coaching veteran Rob Spivery. Spivery has developed a reputation as a program builder over the course of his career. He spent the last nine seasons at Alabama State, where he fashioned a once-struggling program into a consistent power in the SWAC. The Hornets, who made the tournament final last season after beating Southern in the semifinals, won the tournament in 2004 and won both the tournament and regular-season titles in 2000-01. During the 2004 campaign, Spivery's ASU team fell to Duke in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The tradition of improvement has certainly been put on display this year as the Jaguars have improved as the season has gone along and have improved on last year's 14-15 overall record.

Season Notes: The Jaguars have faced a pair of ranked teams this season, including a season opening 89-56 loss against the Texas Longhorns in Austin. Southern would put up a much bigger fight in their second contest against a Top 25 opponent, losing by just 13 to then No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman. Other ‘name' programs have also faced the Jaguars this season, all coming away with results. LSU won by 28, Texas A&M won by 44, Xavier by 17, and Tulsa by 12.

Despite these big, early season setbacks, Southern enters the NCAA Tournament on a hot streak, winning 10 of their previous 11 games and 17 of their previous 20.

To Win: Southern will, frankly, need career efforts from most of their rotation beginning with Alexander. The 6-foot-1 senior is more of a gunner than a sharpshooter, hitting just 29% of his perimeter attempts this season (despite taking a team high 154 through 31 games), and hasn't faired well against any of the big name opponents this season, shooting a combined 20-of-52 (.384) overall and just 7-of-23 from the perimeter (.304) against Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, and Oklahoma.

Southern will also have to compensate for a lack of skilled big men, and no real aptitude at the free throw line (64% as a team). Despite the lack of size, however, the Jaguars did lead the SWAC in rebounding margin, but were out-boarded by a staggering 64 rebounds (16/game) against the four big name opponents.

Duke Notes:
courtesy of Duke Sports Information

- The Blue Devils earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in school history – the most by any program since the field expanded to 64 (now 65) teams in 1985. Duke is 33-6 as a No. 1 seed, including championship runs in 1992 and 2001. Duke has earned a number one seed in eight of the last nine years. The 2006 Blue Devils are 30-3 entering the tournament, the ninth 30-win season under Coach K.

- Duke has enjoyed the confines of nearby Greensboro Coliseum, posting a 53-29 record at the 47-year old facility. The Blue Devils have won six ACC titles (1978, 1980,1986, 1988, 2003 & 2006) at the venue and have a 30-15 ACC Tournament mark there. In NCAA Tournament action, Duke is 8-0 at the coliseum with its 1992 and 2001 title runs beginning in Greensboro.

- The Blue Devils lead the ACC in scoring offense (82.5 ppg.), field goal percentage (49.4 pct.), free throw percentage (76.1 pct.) and three-point field goal percentage (39.6 pct.). Duke's 1992 National Championship squad is the only team in conference history to lead the league in all four categories in a season. Only four teams (1992 Duke, 1986 North Carolina, 1984 North Carolina & 1964 Duke) have led the ACC in scoring offense, field goal percentage and free throw percentage in the same season.

Duke also leads the ACC in free throw shooting at 76.1 percent (633-of-832). The Blue Devils have accomplished that feat eight times (1972, 1978, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999 & 2000). Duke is 19-0 this season when making more free throws than an opponent has attempted.

- Freshman Josh McRoberts came on strong in the ACC Tournament, averaging 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He was 13-of-22 (59.1 percent) from the field and 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) from the foul line. McRoberts reached double-figures in scoring in all three games and was named to the ACC All-Tournament second team.

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