East Regional semifinal: Villanova vs. Duke
When: Tonight, 9:57
Where: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
TV/Radio: CBS3/ESPN (950-AM)
Records: Villanova 28-7, Duke 30-6
History: Duke leads the series, 7-3, having won the last five meetings. Villanova's last win came in 1958. Duke is 2-1 in NCAA Tournament games, the last being the 1978 East Regional final.
How they got here: Third-seeded Villanova beat No. 14 American, 80-67, and No. 6 UCLA, 89-69. Second-seeded Duke beat No. 15 Binghamton, 86-62, and No. 7 Texas, 74-69.
Coaches: Jay Wright is 176-90 in 8 years at Villanova, 298-175 in 15 seasons overall. Mike Krzyzewski is 760-214 in 29 years at Duke, 833-273 in 34 seasons overall.
THREE THINGS VILLANOVA MUST DO:
1. Attack the paint, as it did against UCLA. That's where the Wildcats can cause the most damage. That means Dante Cunningham should not just settle for jump shots. And he shouldn't be the only one looking to take the ball to the rim. It works best if it's contagious.
2. Don't let the Blue Devils kill you from the arc. They're going to make shots. That's just the way they play. But don't just let them rain down. That's when the game can get away from you. Quickly.
3. Don't get into foul trouble. I know the Wildcats don't like to give up easy baskets. But they really need to keep their key guys out there as much as possible. You don't want to see Cunningham sitting out the last 7 1/2 minutes of the first half again. Villanova is not going to change its MO now. Just be a little judicious. And smart.
THREE THINGS DUKE MUST DO:
1. Get Gerald Henderson going. He's the only guy they have, or at least the best one, who can get to the basket and make some highlight reels. It can get the momentum flowing. And get everyone else involved, which isn't such a bad thing either..
2. Force turnovers, and turn those turnovers into baskets. And not just necessarily two-pointers. As Jay Wright has pointed out, the Blue Devils are really good at taking your mistake and turning it into three. Daggers, as he calls them. Well put.
3. Try to have as much inside presence as possible. Duke, like 'Nova, plays through its perimeter game. But it might not be able to get by on that alone in this one. The Blue Devils need to establish something in the post, if only to keep the 'Cats honest.
What to expect: Probably one of the best games of the tourney. It has all the makings of a 90-88er. I had Duke going to the Final Four in the old office pool. Don't ask why, because I couldn't tell you. Might have been the best thing I ever did for Nova Nation. If the Wildcats play like they did against UCLA, which is asking a lot, they can obviously beat anyone.