#1 Duke Blue Devils
#3 Baylor Bears
Vegas Odds: Duke -4.5
Why Watch: The Duke interior depth that they’ve been building up all year long will be put to the test in Houston, with Baylor boasting the likes of Ekpe Udoh, Quincy Acy and Josh Lomers. It’s also the latest chapter in Scott Drew’s revival of a program that was in dire straits seven years ago, led by the backcourt tandem of LaceDaruis Dunn and Tweety Carter.
How Duke Got Here: Duke 70 - Purdue 57
How Baylor Got Here: Baylor 72 - St Mary's 49
Why The Bears Will Win: The guards will prove to be more than a handful for Duke, who will also struggle up front in accounting for Baylor’s big men. Baylor’s 2-3 zone, while not as publicized as Syracuse’s, will do a solid job of challenging Duke’s perimeter shooters while Jon Scheyer remains cold from the field.
Bear to Watch: G LaceDarius Dunn
Dunn scored 24 points in the Bears’ whipping of Saint Mary’s and whether or not he can do the same with efficiency against Duke will write a large portion of the story on this one. He can get it done from the perimeter or driving to the basket. If Duke doesn’t have an answer for him Baylor’s going to the Final Four.
Why the Blue Devils Will Win: They’ve got one of the best coaches in the game in Mike Krzyzewski, and his experience gets them through to their first Final Four since 2004. The “big three” will control the flow of the game while Brian Zoubek and company more than hold their own with the Baylor big men. They’ve gutted out many a victory this season despite struggling from the field on certain nights and they’ll do the same in front of a pro-Baylor crowd.
Blue Devil to Watch: C Brian Zoubek
If Duke’s to win they’ll need to win the battle on the boards and the senior from New Jersey will be a large part of that. They don’t need Zoubek to be a force scoring; when he’s rebounding and challenging/blocking shots Duke becomes an even better defensive team as this allows their perimeter defenders to play more aggressively.
How It Will Go Down:
Some have come up with the idea that Duke will be able to knock down shots against the Baylor zone, but that’s easier said that done. The Bears have done a good job of getting out to shooters in the tournament to this point and it’s tough to not see them doing the same on Sunday. Add in Udoh and Acy up front along with the excellent backcourt and you’ve got a team that can handle being on this stage for the first time. This will be a close contest.
Betting Pick: Baylor +4.5
Real Pick: Baylor