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Let's Go Jeff!

We're not sure, but we're guessing most Duke fans are pulling hard for Jeff Capel and his Sooners. We're guessing it's about 99% for the regional Finals against UNC, with a few odd Dukies who are pulling for the ACC team out of some sort of solidarity.

Side note:  at the 1991 Final Four, Julio and his brother sat next to a couple of UNC fans, starting at about 45 minutes before game time.  They were really nice guys and we enjoyed talking to them, and they seemed to enjoy it too.

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Until the teams came out anyway: as soon as Kansas took the floor, we stood and applauded. They were shocked and indignant:  "what do you mean you're not pulling for the ACC team?"

Sorry, came the reply.  We're pulling for the Jayhawks.

One of the guys pointed at the team banners in the rafters of the HoosierDome and said, "see those?  Three teams here have one.  Maybe you'll get one someday, too."

After the awkward moment passed, we watched the game together, and when Kansas put UNC away, they were nice enough to wish us well and to say that they hoped Duke sent Vegas home.  We're not sure if they really meant it, but it was nice and so were they.   And a couple of days later, Duke had a banner too.

But we digress.

Capel's getting a lot of attention for this connection, needless to say, and the ACC has been a thread throughout his life. He was a fan of UNC when he was younger and of course his brother Jason chose the Heels.  If we remember correctly, and we can't find this anywhere so we might be wrong, his father, Jeff Capel II, was also an assistant at Wake Forest.

But Jeff chose Duke and things have worked out pretty well for him since.  We don't know why he named his daughter Cameron - it could be something completely off the wall - but there's a pretty obvious candidate.

Anyway, his classic shot against UNC is still an archetype of the rivalry and gets shown constantly when the rivalry is discussed.  Duke lost that game, unfortunately, and Capel will have a tough time in Sunday's game as well.  But you bet against him at your peril.  People thought he was too young to take the VCU job, and a lot of people were disappointed that he was Oklahoma's choice.

Well not any more.  After the radioactive waste Kelvin Sampson left behind at Oklahoma, and not quite as bad as what he did to Indiana, but bad enough.  And when Capel took the job, remember, most of Sampson's recruits bailed, including one Scottie Reynolds who you might have noticed lately.

The focus of the matchup with UNC, naturally, is going to be bug-eyed Psycho-T against even-keeled Blake Griffin.  But most fans know UNC has a lot more than Tyler Hansbrough, and those who haven't seen Oklahoma that much now know that the Sooners have a lot more than just Griffin.

Tony Crocker has been in a slump for about a month but picked the right time to get out of it against Syracuse.  Willie Warren has been a sensational freshman guard, and Austin Johnson, who is quickly noticed for his bizarre haircut (the "FroHawk) but less noticed for his steadiness.  That's not always appreciated, but Capel says this: “He’s not like a Flynn or a Lawson, one of those guys.  He’s a guy that gets you into your stuff, doesn’t really — or hasn’t really — made a lot of mistakes. And when he’s knocking down open shots, then he gives you a different weapon. And he’s done that for the most part of this season.”

Oklahoma had a tough time containing Jonny Flynn (sounds like a comic book alter ego name doesn't it?) against Syracuse but did a number on bad boy Eric Devendorf, who was held to eight on 3-12 shooting.

If form holds, UNC will play mostly man against Oklahoma, and after seeing what they did to Syracuse's zone, they might be wary of a zone anyway.

Neither team is likely to go far into the bench, although UNC might have an advantage here: despite crushing Syracuse, Oklahoma rode their starters all the way, getting just 19 minutes and two points from their bench.

UNC, by contrast, got 20 minutes out of both Bobby Frasor and Ed Davis, and eight out of Larry Drew (II) and 18 from their bench.

Aside from endurance, foul troubles will obviously be key, and UNC has a lot to throw at Griffin.  Not many teams have the option of triple teaming Griffin with beefy 6-9+guys - Hansbrough, Dion Thompson, and Ed Davis, not to mention the still-thin Tyler Zeller.  Not that they're likely to do that, but they could.

Oklahoma will have to control Hansbrough, and we think that's doable.  They should be able to match up fairly well with Thompson if perhaps less well with Davis, who is for our money a much better player now than Thompson is ever likely to be.

Where the game gets dicier is on the perimeter.  As good as Warren has been, he's a freshman.  And Crocker is the same size as Danny Green, but he'll have to control him.  And then there's Ty Lawson.

What Capel said about Johnson, essentially, is that he's an admirable player. He specifically said he wasn't saying he was a great player.  But his teams tend to win.

To win against UNC, Lawson has to be controlled, and a lot of people have struggled with that lately.  But a lot of people have also struggled with the huge power Blake Griffin brings.  Our guess is he'll more than hold his own inside, but that the game will be determined with how well Oklahoma defends Lawson, Green, and Wayne Ellington, who has been brilliant down the stretch.

Game time is 5:05.