Duke Is Not As Tested As West Virginia, but Does It Matter?

Gary BrownCorrespondent IIApril 2, 2010

SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 27:  Da'Sean Butler #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts in the second half the Kentucky Wildcats during the east regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 27, 2010 in Syracuse, New York. West Virginia won 73-66. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Having the easy draw to make the Final Four does not help Duke any at this point, and could actually be an issue for them.

When you go back and review the results from Coach K’s team this year in close games the Blue Devils have not exactly been the most clutch of teams. Here is how their most closely contested games have shaken out this season:

  • Wisconsin-73       Duke-69
  • Georgia Tech-71   Duke-67

Duke’s trio of Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith did manage to get wins in a tough game with Boston College, a somewhat challenging game with Maryland, and in the NCAA tourney against a physical Baylor team.

Here is what Bob Huggins West Virginia Mountaineers have accomplished this season in close games.

  • West Virginia-80   Cleveland State-78
  • West Virginia-90   Seton Hall-84(OT)
  • West Virginia-63   Marquette-62
  • West Virginia-77   Louisville-74
  • West Virginia-68   Villanova-66(OT)
  • West Virginia-54   Cincinnati-51

There were games they came out on the wrong end of the score. The Mountaineers lost a heartbreaker to Notre Dame, a tough game to a healthy Syracuse team, and to a strong Pitt team in three overtimes. Notre Dame and Pitt were both road games.

What does this mean to the pairing of these two teams in the Final Four? Duke had better get on the Mountaineers early because if the game is a contest late the edge starts to swing toward Da’Sean Butler and the rest of his supporting cast from West Virginia.

Here are the keys to this pairing in the semifinals of the Big Dance:

West Virginia

  • Allow Joe Mazulla to play his game.
  • Da’Sean Butler must have a big night scoring.
  • Be able to extend their 1-3-1 defense to shut down Duke’s perimeter shooting


  • Shut down Da’Sean Butler and they win.
  • Brian Zoubek must continue to be a dominating presence inside.
  • They must be 40% or better shooting the three. 

Our call for this game? An easy path will not help Duke. Being tested and successful in close games will lift West Virginia to the championship game. 

Click here for more on Duke and West Virginia from College Sports Matchups