Duke (28-5) vs West Virginia (25-10)
Washington, D.C. - Verizon Center
TV: CBS / Tip: 2:10 PM E
Program Vitals Conference: Big East Nickname: Mountaineers Colors: Blue and Gold Head Coach: Bob Huggins (1st Year) Career Record at West Virginia: 25-10; 615-221 Overall
Projected Starters: 11 Joe Alexander (6-8, 230, So.) – 16.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg 22 Alex Ruoff (6-6, 215, Jr.) – 13.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg 43 Jamie Smalligan (7-0, 265, Sr.) – 2.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg 1 Da'Sean Butler (6-7, 225, Jr.) – 12.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg 14 Darris Nichols (6-3, 200, Sr.) – 10.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg Key Reserves: 3 Joe Mazzula (6-2, 210, So.) – 5.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg 35 Wellington Smith (6-7, 215, So.) – 5.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg 41 John Flowers (6-7, 195, Fr.) – 4.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg 32 Ted Talkington (6-2, 200, Jr.) - 1.3 ppg
How They Got Here:
In the opening round Duke narrowly avoided what would have been the tournament's biggest upset after Gerald Henderson's driving layup gave Duke as 71-70 victory over 15th seeded Belmont. Meanwhile West Virginia kept Arizona at arm's length before pulling away late to beat the ninth seeded Wildcats 75-65.
This will be the 24th meeting between the two teams with Duke holding a 17-6 lead overall. However, the two programs have not met since March of 1987.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski isn't the only member of the Duke program suffering from the flu. In fact several players including DeMarcus Nelson, Greg Paulus, and Kyle Singler have been experiencing flu like symptoms and have been treated during the off days.
All Eyes On Alexander:
After a sluggish finish to his sophomore season, junior forward Joe Alexander has become one of the nation's best players. Playing the role of combo forward, the 6-foot-8 Alexander has been red hot entering the NCAA Tournament. Before scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds despite 4-of-12 shooting from the field against Arizona, Alexander had been on a torrid scoring streak over his previous six games, having scored 161 points in those six contests.
Balanced Scoring Creates Match Up Problems:
The Mountaineers have four starters averaging double figures. Forward Da'Sean Butler averages 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds, Ruoff averages 13.5 points and Nichols averages 10.9 points per game. Against the Wildcats in the opening round the Mountaineers got 21 from Ruoff, 19 from Butler, and 14 apiece from Alexander and Darris Nicholas.
Why Did Duke Struggle With Belmont?:
No one expected the Blue Devils' game with Belmont to go down to the final seconds, but that's exactly what happened. Duke shot just 43.1 percent from the floor and just 28% from the perimeter. On the flip side the Bruins hit 35% from the perimeter and 44.1 percent from the field. However the Bruins didn't wilt under the Duke defensive pressure, logging 12 assists (on 26 made baskets) and 14 turnovers while Duke managed just nine assists (on 25 made baskets) against 15 turnovers.
How Did West Virginia Handle Arizona?
The Mountaineers got a balanced scoring attack from their four leaders who combined to score 68 of the team's 75 points against the Wildcats. As a team West Virginia shot 51% from the field and 58% (11-of-19) from the perimeter while taking care of the basketball to the tune of 16 assists (on 28 made baskets) against just nine turnovers. Defensively the Mountaineers held Arizona to 45% shooting from the field and 40% from the perimeter. However the Mountaineers also forced 12 turnovers to turn a one point halftime lead into a comfortable 10 point margin.
West Virginia 71