Duke vs. West Virginia: Who has the edge?

April 3, 2010 

Outside shooting

Duke defends the 3-point line better than any team in the country, but the Devils haven't faced a team with West Virginia's combination of size and skill. The perimeter matchups favor WVU, which hit 10 3-pointers against Kentucky. Of course, Baylor had the same athletic advantage and went 5-of-18 from 3-point range against Duke.

Edge: West Virginia

Inside game

West Virginia doesn't have traditional feed-the-post inside options, but the Mountaineers do have Da'Sean Butler (6 feet 7), Devin Ebanks (6-9) and Kevin Jones (6-8), all mobile wing players who know how to get the ball to the basket. Conventional or not, interior points are interior points. Duke's best scoring big man is Kyle Singler, who doesn't have an appealing matchup with any of WVU's frontcourt options.

Edge: West Virginia

Fast break

WVU has the parts to finish a fast break but not necessarily to start one. Without point guard Darryl Bryant, and even with him, the Mountaineers are more of a halfcourt team that will take transition points created by its 1-3-1 zone defense. Duke played 12 games against teams that made the NCAA tournament, and four more in the tournament, and reached 80 points only twice.

Edge: West Virginia

Defense

This Duke team has no superior individual defender, but few of Mike Krzyzewski's teams have understood the concept of man defense better than this one. The Devils don't have a ton of blocked shots or steals, but they switch on everything and they make you earn every point.

Edge: Duke

Bench

Darryl Bryant's injury leaves WVU with basically a six-man rotation. Krzyzewski always has viewed depth as overrated, but he does have useful reserve parts for the interior (the Brothers Plumlee) and an outside threat (Andre Dawkins).

Edge: Duke

Coaching

Bob Huggins has as many first-round losses in the NCAA tournament (four) as Krzyzewski does in the national championship game.

Edge: Duke

The edge

To beat West Virginia, Duke needs to play a perfect game. That means the same defensive intensity that carried the Blue Devils there, coupled with good shooting from the Big Three and an active night from Brian Zoubek. The Devils are due such a perfect storm, but to predict one against a team with such tough matchups would make little sense.

Pick: West Virginia

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