(1) Duke vs. (8) Michigan
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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(1) Duke Blue Devils
Everybody in the world knew how the Duke Blue Devils game was going to go against the Hampton Pirates. As expected they took it to them, eliminating the Pirates 87-45. The really interesting thing about this game was the return of freshmen phenom Kyrie Irving. Irving came off of the bench and scored 14 points (4-8 FG, 2-2 3P) and grabbed four rebounds in 20 minutes of work. While the final stat line is impressive, it’s important to note who he did it against. Irving is understandably going to need some time in order to truly get into game shape, but just having him back on the court is a huge boost for the Blue Devils. Overall it was a well-balanced effort offensively by the Blue Devils, who had four players score in double figures with three others having at least eight. Next up for Duke is a Michigan team who looked spectacular against Tennessee. Slowing down their potent backcourt will be step one for a Duke victory.
(8) Michigan Wolverines
No coach in the NCAA Tournament’s seat was as hot as Tennessee Volunteers head coach Bruce Pearl’s and the Michigan Wolverines may have sealed his fate. At the half Michigan led by just four, but they blew things open in the second half, outscoring the Volunteers 42-16 en route to a 75-45 victory. Freshmen forward Tobias Harris was the only one who could get going for Tennessee. He had 19 while none of his teammates managed to score more than six. Meanwhile it seemed like everyone was on for the Wolverines. They had five players score in double figures, led by the 14 points and 10 rebounds of Zack Novak. John Beilein has done a fantastic job coaching this team and will have a great game plan in place for the defending national champion Duke Blue Devils. To pull off the upset every Wolverine will have to be at the top of their game and really lock down defensively.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Duke. With Irving back in the lineup it’s going to be hard to pick against the Blue Devils the rest of the way.