In a tournament with little semblance of order, there remains a scrap of the expected.
Tomorrow, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, the No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils out of the South Region will square off with the West Virginia Mountaineers of the East Region.
The matchup of Big East champions WVU and ACC champs Duke looks to be a defensive battle.
West Virginia features one of the most tenacious and successful defenses in the country. Running the 1-3-1 zone, they are able to use their length to deny entry passes and keep their opponents from getting the ball to the low post.
Duke, on the other hand, plays a solid man with strong help defense to shut down their opponents.
WVU Keys to the Game
The Devils have shown all year their proficiency at hitting long-range shots. Scheyer moved into 10th place in ACC all-time three-point baskets made in Duke's win over Baylor. He is always a threat to shoot from outside, as are teammates Smith and Singler.
Contain Duke's "big three"
When Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, and Kyle Singler ALL play well, Duke wins. If 2 of the 3 play well they probably win, and if WVU can contain them, they could win.
The word "contain" is key here. No team will be able to make the big three a non-factor offensively. Instead, it is paramount to minimize the damage they do and make Duke resort to putting up points with their bigs to win the game—something they have not shown a great aptitude for.
Get major point contributions from players other than Da'Sean Butler
A key to WVU's win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight was the 17 points put up by Joe Mazzulla. Mazzulla, who scored only 2.2 points per game this year, was able to take pressure away from Butler, Ebanks, and Jones.
To beat Duke, WVU needs to score at least 65 points. To do this they will need significant contributions from players like Mazzulla, John Flowers, and Wellington Smith.
Duke Keys to the Game
Take advantage of the zone
In WVU's win over Kentucky, the Wildcats went 4-of-32 from three-point land. They were unable to take advantage of weaknesses in the zone defense of West Virginia. Duke needs to hit open three-pointers when they get the opportunity because points will be hard to come by against a well-coached Mountaineer defense.
Also, they need to utilize baseline cuts behind the middle of the 1-3-1 zone where Singler, coming off the wing, will have a major size advantage over the 6'2" Mazzulla.
Crash the offensive glass
Duke has been amazing with the offensive glass this year. If Zoubek, the Plumlees, and Lance can get multiple 2nd chance opportunities for Duke, Duke has an advantage
With Da'Sean Butler being the most consistent scorer on a Mountaineers team that occasionally struggles with scoring, his performance will be a turning point in the game. If Duke is able to keep Butler from taking open shots, they will lessen his scoring impact.
Also, Butler is a very emotional player. If Duke comes out of the gates strong on defense, they might be able to throw Da'Sean off his game.