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Next Up - Binghamton

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As Binghamton gets ready for their first tournament game and hopes for a big upset, the questions about their program continue.

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Latest concern: a fairly serious sexual harassment suit against two athletic department officials. This is potentially a big deal and comes at the worst possible time for the basketball team. Binghamton has taken a lot of knocks lately, most seriously the Serb who beat a guy into a coma.  They're getting what they hoped to get of the move to D-1, but they're getting a lot of other stuff as well.

Thursday they put it all on the court.  Just who is Binghamton, anyway?

Yankees pitcher Brian Bruney says they're very quick and he thinks they'll beat Duke.

He could be right, at least on the quick part.  The Bearcats start Reggie Fuller (6-6), D.J. Rivera (6-4), Malik Alvin (6-0), Emanuel Mayben (6-3), and Chretien Lukusa (6-2).

They've averaged seven steals a game this season, which is not bad, really.

All five starters average in double figures, with Rivera leading the way at 20 ppg.  The starters pull fairly heavy minutes as well. Fuller, who is obviously undersized in the post, averages 3.5 fouls per game, and that's against not-so-great competition.

Most of this has come against America East competition, of course, although they did play George Washington, losing 71-57.  They beat Rutgers, 66-56, lost to Bucknell by three, 63-60, and fell to Tulane by one.

None of this matters, but Rutgers best wins were probably - well, they haven't won since December 23rd. They did give Pitt a pretty good game.  And Tulane? They gave Memphis a 10 point game.

Not a lot to go on there, but take it for what it's worth.

Malik Allen is the point guard, and he tends to turn the ball over about as much as he connects on a pass.  He's a good bit smaller than Duke's guards (all of them), but pretty quick.

If Binghamton is to win, they have to do a few things and their margin of error is pretty thin. 1) turn Duke over.   It hasn't happened a lot lately. 2) shoot very well. Duke has rebounded well against some really good rebounding teams this year, and Binghamton has not done well on the boards overall, having been outrebounded by 50 on the season.  That doesn't sound that bad, but keep in mind that they are substantially more athletic than the rest of their conference.  Their might be strategic reasons for this - zone defense or what have you - but overall they've lost those battles. 3) defend the post. Odds are you won't see Brian Zoubek a lot,  but between Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson, Elliot Williams, Dave McClure, and Jon Scheyer, none of whom are much smaller than their opponents biggest players, Duke should be able to score inside even if they're zoned as long as they rebound well.

And if Duke is on from outside, Binghamton could have a long day.

All that aside, though, Duke turns to defense first, and while the Bearcats may be quick, they're going to be facing a defense unlike anything they've seen this year.  When you get past Williams or Scheyer or Smith, you run into Henderson, McClure, Thomas, or Singler.  They're all tall, they switch well, and they're capable of holding teams under 20 points in a half.

Are we ruling out a win by Binghamton? Absolutely not.  They're a blank slate, first of all, and no one really knows what to expect.  Second, they're going to be more athletic than most people think.  Third, they are, to a certain extent, under siege and any group under the sort of pressure they're under tends to rely on each other. And last, if they show the slightest sign of life - and even if they don't - they'll get the crowd.

So while Duke is favored, and we picked Duke in our bracket as well, it may be a more challenging game than anyone expects.