As of Sunday, March 24, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: Creighton vs. Duke
Led by sharp-shooting Seth Curry, second-seeded Duke looks to take another step toward a possible fifth national title when it meets upstart Creighton on Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional at Philadelphia. The Blue Devils shrugged off a pesky Albany team in their tourney opener. A year ago Duke was also seeded second but lost its first tournament game to 15th-seeded Lehigh.
The seventh-seeded Blue Jays got 27 points and 11 rebounds from junior All-American Doug McDermott and put the game away at the free-throw line to fend off Cincinnati in their opener on Friday. McDermott, a highly-touted NBA prospect, may turn pro after the season but he'll have at least one more collegiate game to enhance his resume. Creighton has won six straight and is the best-shooting team in the country.
ABOUT DUKE (28-5): The Blue Devils' title chances were given a major boost when senior forward Ryan Kelly returned from a foot injury for the final games of the season. At 6-11 and armed with a strong outside game, Kelly - part of Duke's 2010 national championship team - is a nightmarish matchup. But it was stalwarts Curry and Mason Plumlee who carried the Blue Devils past Albany. The tandem combined for 49 points on a spectacular 19-of-25 shooting as the Blue Devils atoned for last year's early exit. "Plumlee did the best Kareem Abdul-Jabbar imitation I've seen in a long time," Albany coach Will Brown said. "He hit three sky hooks. I haven't even seen somebody attempt that shot in my 12 years at Albany, and he hit three of them." Coach Mike Krzyzewski has won an NCAA Tournament-record 80 games.
ABOUT CREIGHTON (28-7): The Blue Jays finished the first half of Friday's second-round game on a 6-0 run and never trailed again on their way to a 67-63 win over Cincinnati. Creighton was inconsistent throughout the contest - it shot 63 percent with 10 turnovers in the first half, then hit just 7-of-23 shots in the second half but converted 9-of-10 free throws in the final two minutes to prevail. The Blue Jays also reached the third round of last year's tournament but were eliminated by North Carolina. Creighton has won tournament games in consecutive years for the first time in school history.
Albany shot 36.5 percent in its loss to Duke but was 9-for-15 from 3-point range, the best by far of any Duke opponent this season.
McDermott broke his own school scoring record for the season with 803 points.
This is the first meeting between the schools.
PREDICTION: Duke 75, Creighton 71