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Next Up - Texas

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| Seth
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Andy Katz
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Conventional wisdom currently has Duke as an underdog to Texas, but Texas has
one significant disadvantage.

The Longhorns have had two competitive games so far, one with West Virginia,
which was a thriller, and one with Iowa which was close but not wildly close.

In both games, Texas went down to a six man rotation. And in both
games, P.J. Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge got in significant foul trouble.
Yet Texas never really went into their bench. That is a bit surprising.

To a large extent, we've been struck by how much Texas resembles the teams
Rick Barnes had at Clemson. There's the zippy smallish point guard, the
strong wing, the beefy players under the basket. It's been very similar to
the slab five.

"Duke's strength is their competitive spirit and their will. They are trained by a member of the military. They are constantly being brainwashed to expect to excel and to accept nothing but that.

"They are coached by the best motivator in college basketball and they happen to have players that buy in [and] are terrific players and that's a heckuva combination. He gets his players to embrace that and champion their roles better than anyone in America.

"[You must match] their sense of urgency. You cannot back down. You've got to draw a line in the sand for [the] 40 minutes they will. You've got to be the aggressor."
Seth Greenberg, on how Texas should play Duke

Now, though, while Brad Buckman would have fit right in at Clemson, albeit as
a much more talented member of the team, LaMarcus Aldridge changes the formula.

A long and athletic forward, Aldridge has solid skills and will present a
challenge should he be guarded by Shelden Williams, who will have to follow a
guy around who has small forward skills, if not some guard skills.

We wouldn't be at all surprised to see Josh McRoberts guard him, and for
Williams to stick with Buckman. He's a tough matchup.

Texas has a brilliant guard in 6-2 Daniel Gibson, who, along with Aldridge,
is an NBA career waiting to happen. Gibson is averaging 13.4 ppg and 3.6
assists. Gibson is wicked quick, and he'll be a handful.

His normal running mate is 6-1 senior Kenton Paulino, who is averaging 5.6

Duke can probably matchup reasonably well with Buckman and Aldridge up front,
but P.J. Tucker presents a serious problem.

Tucker at one point was an overweight, undersized power player. He's
still powerful, but now he's a svelte 225. The Longhorn frontcourt is
averaging 26 rebounds per game, with Tucker pulling down 8 (Aldridge is grabbing
10.4; Buckman is getting 8.0 ppg).

Pretty clearly, that advantage has to be neutralized somehow, and as fine a
player as J.J. Redick is, he's going to have trouble keeping Tucker off the
board without getting, well, Tuckered out.

So how to counter their powerful board advantage?

Well, of course with Duke's traditional form of leveling, defense, for
one. Hard defense can negate a lot of things.

Then there's Duke's more recent way to level an advantage - the three point

J.J. Redick is the main weapon here, and if Tucker presents challenges for
Duke, J.J. Redick does so for Texas as well.

Redick's shooting ability forces every defense to adjust. If you can go
after him with an athletic defender, well, that worked for Memphis, although
they used several guys.

We're not sure how well Tucker can chase a guy like Redick. We're not saying
he can't, but his game has always been down low. If he has to chase Redick
out to a logo, his rebounding obviously will suffer.

If Lee Melchionni shoots well, so much the better; if Greg Paulus and Sean
Dockery do also, Duke is probably going to be in good shape.

Another key to the game, surely, is the play of the freshmen. Greg
Paulus will be going up against one of the elite point guards in the nation in
Gibson, and McRoberts will go up against, at different times, Buckman and

If we see the swashbuckling, daredevil Paulus, that's good news. And if
McRoberts unleashes his array of post moves and picks this game to make a
statement, well, that's good, too.

But no matter what happens, we think Duke, although now generally considered
the underdog, has some advantages. Suprisingly, depth may be one.
And secondly, as Sean Dockery pointed out, Duke has been in tough games all
season. Texas has had two.

A lot has to go Duke's way, but we think Duke has a better chance than a lot
of people currently do.