Tonight is the big game, the huge game, the Duke-UConn clash of Titans.
Okay, that's a bit hyperbolic, but it's still going to be good.
It's a huge game for everyone at Duke, but perhaps biggest for JJ Redick,
who, if he goes Dunleavy, could make a huge difference, and Shelden Williams,
who faces his greatest challenge ever in Emeka Okafor.
Okafor, who almost ended up at Arizona, Vandy, or Georgia Tech, depending on
who you listen to, was underrecruited and only got offered by UConn after a big
All-Star game performance. He's matured into a great player, partly
because he works harder than just about anyone else, and is a relentless
perfectionist. He's also a superb student.
Stopping him is going to be tough, and Shelden will have to play not just his
best game, but his smartest game, so that he avoids foul trouble. But
since Okafor only has a one-inch advantage, and the weight is about the same, we
think Shelden can do some damage. It's been amazing lately to look at just
how powerful he is. He's not on a level with Brand or Boozer just yet, but
he is more powerfully built at this stage than either of those guys were.
He's just really made himself huge.
Redick, as we suggested, is one hot streak away from legend, or one cold
streak away from massive criticism, though not from us. We want him to keep
shooting, because he's just so dangerous.
And if he does get hot, he also opens Ewing, who can do great damage himself.
We're really curious to see how UConn defends Deng. They'll almost have to
double-team at times. Certainly if Boone goes out, Deng will go past him,
where he'll meet Okafor, if Okafor leaves Williams. Hard to say how that
will work out.
We're not going to make a prediction on this game, but we certainly think
Duke has a great shot, as does UConn. One emotional wildcard: Jim Calhoun
will not be going into the Hall of Fame, which leaked out early Saturday
morning. We don't see any way that works to Duke's advantage.
We'll see what happens. Until then, let's go Duke!