Mississippi State is a senior-laden team which has had a lot of health
problems this year. They lost guard Winsome Frazier for part of the
season. Big man Marcus Campbell, who once seemed headed to N.C. State
along with Josh Powell, has been called an underachiever and is still getting
over a strained calf. He's going to be relied on to counter Shelden
Williams, and did play for 18 minutes against Stanford and had a big impact on
the game. He wasn't directly responsible for the 44-14 run that blew
Stanford back to The Farm, but he was a big part of it.
6-5 Shane Powers is a solid scorer, and Lawrence Roberts will be a challenge
as well. He's a tough rebounder and if Shavlik Randolph doesn't get it done
defensively, it's not clear who else can do it. Miss. State has the luxury
of three seven footers, and, as Coach K says, if they totally dominate the
boards, the game is probably lost.
For Duke, playing the way they played against Delaware State won't cut
it. Duke was very solid defensively in the middle of the game, but they
let Delaware State take a tactical advantage early, and worse, let them back
into the game when they had a 20 point lead. It wasn't vintage Duke, to be
In the past, when Duke has struggled in an NCAA game (and still won), they've
typically played very well the next game. Let's hope that's the case
Sunday as well. Mississippi State has a lot of experience and talent, and
they are very capable of winning this game if Duke doesn't come ready to play,
and, really, even if they do. There's no guarantee, and it wouldn't be as
big of an upset as the seeds would suggest.