Favorite: The Blue Devils have underachieved in previous years, but this team seems to have the toughness that Coach K’s recent squads have lacked. If Duke can’t get over the hump and make it to the Final Four this year, I’ll start to think they never will.
What to watch for: If both favorites advance to Sunday’s elite eight game, Duke will have to deal with a pro Baylor crowd playing close to home in Houston. The Bears have the size to give Duke problems inside with Udoh, Jones and Lomers.
But while Baylor has the talent to beat anyone in the country, they have failed to finish against the best, losing to Kansas and Kansas State (twice) by a combined 15 points this season.
Cinderella: After scoring only 11 points in the first half of the Big Ten tournament against Minnesota, everyone was ready to write off the Boilermakers.
No one can question the toughness and grit of this basketball team. If Purdue can find a way to scrap through two more games and reach Indianapolis after losing Robbie Hummel, it will be one of the more defying runs in recent memory.
Most intriguing match-up: I’m excited to see how Omar Samhan will be able to compete against future first rounder Ekpe Udoh down on the blocks.
It will be tough for Saint Mary’s to get the ball inside against Baylor’s 2-3 zone, but if Samhan can continue to be a force on the blocks it’ll definitely force NBA scouts to re-evaluate the big man’s draft stock.