Albany is confident vs. Duke
by Jack Carey, USA TODAY Sports
PHILADELPHIA – With fans looking for potential bracket-busting upsets on the tournament’s first weekend, many might be thinking about how a 15th-seeded Lehigh team stunned second-seeded Duke last season to knock the Blue Devils out of the tournament before they could even think about another trip to the Final Four.
So are the Devils again vulnerable?
As 15th-seeded Albany takes aim at second-seeded Duke in a Midwest Regional game Friday, the Great Danes seem to be saying, “Thanks for nothing, Mountain Hawks.”
Both teams have been hearing about the upset for much of the week, but the Danes believe Lehigh did them no favors.
“I think that’s actually a disadvantage for us because I’m sure that Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) will remind those players and keep that in the back their minds,” said Danes guard Jacob Iati. “… I’m sure that doesn’t sit too well with them.”
There is a slightly different way to look at upset possibilities, however, Albany coach Will Brown said. “A 16 seed has never beaten a one. A 15 has beaten a two (six times),” Brown pointed out. “So when you’re talking to your kids about that, and you look them in the eye, and you’re preaching, they believe you because it’s happened. … Why can’t we do it?
“Duke will be focused, and like many BCS-level schools, in a game like this they’re going to try to throw a knockout punch, early and often. We need to be prepared for that, and if it happens, we need to weather the storm.”
The Danes said they can draw on their own experiences against a couple of those BCS-level programs for a shot of confidence. They won at Washington this season and were competitive for most of the first half against Ohio State before fading.
It helps, “just knowing in our heads that they’re only mortal,” said forward Sam Rowley. “They can be beaten. They’re just players; they’re just kids.”