SWEET 16: LSU vs. Duke

LSU coach John Brady was asked on Selection Sunday about being grouped in the same region with the NCAA Tournament's No. 1 overall seed.

It didn't seem to bother the ninth-year coach that the Duke Blue Devils could be on the horizon for his team in the Big Dance.


"If you're going to go to a Final Four you've got to beat the No. 1 anyway unless you're the No. 1 seed," Brady said.


Brady will get his wish.


The 4th-seeded Tigers (25-8) will meet No. 1 overall seed Duke (32-3) Thursday night in the Sweet 16 at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Tipoff is set for 6:10 p.m.


It will be the seventh all-time meeting between the two schools as the Blue Devils hold a commanding 5-1 advantage in the series. LSU's lone victory was a 105-95 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 20 1974. The last meeting between the two schools was a 96-67 Duke victory at the Maui Invitational on Dec. 22, 1992.


Duke reached the Sweet 16 by virtue of a 70-54 win over the Southern Jaguars in the first round. The Blue Devils knocked off George Washington 74-61 in the Round of 32. The Tigers knocked off Iona 80-64 then edged Texas A&M in dramatic fashion when Darrel Mitchell hit a last-second three-pointer to win 58-57.


Heading into the NCAA Tournament, several national experts predicted LSU and Duke to meet in the Sweet 16. The general consensus is the Tigers have what it takes to solve the Duke equation, something only three teams (Georgetown, Florida State and North Carolina) have done this season so far.


Below are Tiger Rag's matchups to watch in Thursday's game and our predictions for the LSU-Blue Devil clash en route to the Final Four.






J.J. Redick vs. Darrel Mitchell




While Mitchell has plenty of star-power, no one can compare to Redick in terms of flair. Redick (27.4 ppg, 41.2% 3-pt.) broke the NCAA record for made three-pointers in a career and became Duke and the ACC's all-time leading scorer this season. However, Mitchell is no slouch. A senior all-SEC pick for the Tigers, Mitchell (17.3 ppg, 41% 3-pt.) has made his share of big shots this season and as he proved throughout much of the SEC season, can take over a game from beyond the three-point line. It is likely Mitchell and Redick won't go head to head though. Redick will probably draw 6-5 guard Garrett Temple, the Tigers top defender. Mitchell will most likely be assigned to 6-1 Greg Paulus.






Shelden Williams vs. Glen Davis




Duke has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation owning an 11-2 record against NCAA Tournament-bound teams. However, it is likely the Blue Devils have gone up against a post player as dominant as LSU's Glen Davis (18.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg). While Davis isn't an above-the-rim type player even at 6-9, his 310-pound frame allows him to dominant the paint as a tenacious inside scorer and defender. However, the thing which makes Davis dangerous is a pair of soft hands, an accurate fade away jumper and precision at the free throw line. Duke's Shelden Williams is a more rangy-type players that are equally athletic, yet not nearly as broad. Williams (18.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg) can do all the things Davis can and maybe a bit more.




Key Mismatch


Sean Dockery vs. Tasmin Mitchell




The Blue Devils and Tigers are equal in star power with Redick, Mitchell, Davis and Williams. However, one position that could prove a major difference in the game is the three-guard spot. Sean Dockery (7.8 ppg, 41.3% 3-pt.) is a speedy guard that can shoot the three-point ball as well as anyone. But matched up against the Tigers 6-7, 230-pound Tasmin Mitchell could prove to be the game's biggest mismatch. Tasmin Mitchell (11.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is a swingman being able to handle the ball but bang down low as well. Look for the Devils to go the larger DeMarcus Nelson or Lee Melchionni to try and combat Tasmin Mitchell, who has the best pull-up jump shot from the perimeter for the Tigers.






Tyrus Thomas



Duke has its big two in Redick and Williams and a sluice of role players, but the Blue Devils have no answer for the 6-9, 215-pound Tyrus Thomas, who proves to be the most versatile player on the floor. Thomas has what Davis doesn't in terms of playing over the rim. The SEC Freshman of the Year can run the floor, block shots, rebound, shoot free throws, pound inside and has developed a fairly accurate mid-range jump shot. Josh McRoberts, a 6-10, 230-pound freshman will likely get Thomas as Davis and Williams will probably bang it out in the paint, the question is can McRoberts handle the overly versatile Thomas.






There is no reason to believe LSU can't win this game. The Tigers have all the components to be a championship team with excellent guard play as well as depth and talent in the low post. LSU has proved they do not get intimidated having won at West Virginia and played Connecticut and Ohio State stand a standstill in one and two point losses respectively. The key is getting Williams and McRoberts in foul trouble early and focus on stopping Duke's role players (Paulus and Dockery). Temple will be assigned to Redick in a hope of slowing him down. However, it is likely he will get his share of points. The Tigers can't match Redick's talent but are as more athletic and deeper in the low post than the Blue Devils.


LSU 78, Duke 71

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