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(1) Louisville vs (2) Duke
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On March 30, 2013 @ 1:06 am In NCAA | No Comments
The main reason why the Cardinals are the favorites to win the tournament is because they can beat teams in so many different ways. They significantly slowed down Damyean Dotson, but overall the Ducks had the most success of any team in the tourney against their defense. However, they could not slow down Russ Smith and that turned out to be the difference as the Cardinals moved onto the Elite Eight for the fourth time in the last six years. Smith needed just 16 shots to score 31 points, keeping pace with what he’s done all tournament long. The Cardinals lost the battle of the boards by one, but the Ducks are an imposing team on the glass. As a team they shot 53 percent from the field, but did leave nine points on the free throw line. In order to advance to the Final Four for the second consecutive year, the Cardinals will have to avenge a late November loss to the Duke Blue Devils. They were without Gorgui Dieng in that 76-71 loss. If Smith is the best guard on the floor and the Cardinals keep them on the free throw line, they should stay alive.
Duke Blue Devils
In the Michigan State Spartans, the Blue Devils were going up against one of the biggest and most athletic frontlines left in the country. However, they were able to hold their own, limit the Spartans’ backcourt and ride the hot shooting of Seth Curry to a 71-61 victory. Curry was red hot from the start and finished with 29 points. He made 6-9 from three and was a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. Mason Plumlee put forth a solid effort on both ends of the floor, posting up 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. As a team the Blue Devils made 26 trips to the free throw line, making 24. That was a key to their early season victory against Louisville, but they’re a much different team now. The Blue Devils will have to find a way to contain Smith, one of the hottest players in the tournament, and score against one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. Settling for long jump shots is something the Blue Devils have to stay away from at all costs. Taking care of the basketball and not turning it over will also be vital in the Blue Devils’ quest to get back to the Final Four.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Louisville. The Cardinals’ defense will be the difference as they knock off Duke for a spot in the Final Four.
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