Unfortunately I am in a time crunch this week and unable to do much of a detailed investigation into the games in San Antonio. So a few scattershot thoughts on the upcoming finale to the season…
Duke vs. UConn – Emeka Okafor is clearly the most dominant defensive player in college basketball. But Shelden Williams of Duke isn’t that far behind. He averaged 3 blocks a game this year – good for 9th in the nation, and the Xavier game demonstrated that he can be disruptive inside.
These teams are close to being mirror images of each other. Duke seems to be more prone to jump shots, with Dan Ewing, JJ Redick, and Chris Duhon (especially now) less able to score close to the hoop than the Huskies’ Taliek Brown, Ben Gordon, and Rashad Anderson. As supporting evidence, 27% of Duke’s points come from 3 point range compared to 24% for UConn.
Oklahoma State vs. Georgia Tech – While I am ready to anoint the winner of the Duke/UConn game as the national champ, we shouldn’t forget that Georgia Tech did win at Duke, and crushed UConn on a neutral court – and the Jackets are the underdog in this game.
Oklahoma State is the best offensive team left, and Georgia Tech is the worst. However, Tech’s defense could be the equalizer here. They ranked 21st nationally in defensive efficiency, and while Luke Schenscher and Anthony McHenry are not prolific shot blockers, they can cause problems for anyone driving to the hoop. Georgia Tech easily led the ACC in field goal percentage defense. Also, Okafor had his worst shooting game of the year against Georgia Tech (2-10 FGs), partly due to Schenscher’s and McHenry’s handywork inside. On the other hand, Oklahoma State shredded Pitt’s vaunted defense in the 2nd half of their regional semi-final, so maybe there is no earthly force that can stop them.