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Next Up - Oregon

Aside from the obvious Singler vs. Singler attraction, Oregon is an interesting game with a sleeping giant.

Oregon is first of all in a great conference. The Pac-10 should be solid year in and year out.

Secondly, to the best of our memory, the only school which has a donor rivaling Nike's Phil Knight is Oklahoma State which has T. Boone Pickens.

Both schools therefore have a ridiculous amount of money to spend on athletics. In Oregon's case, this has showed up first on the football field, in uniforms, and soon in a new basketball arena . It may soon show up on the court as well.

After last season's .500 record, coach Ernie Kent was shown the door, and after a long search, the Ducks hired Creighton's Dana Altman. He had a solid if unexciting career with Creighton.

At Oregon, he will inherit a program in transition. Obviously, Duke fans are generally familiar with EJ Singler. They also return 5-10 Malcolm Almstead, 6-8 Jeremy Jacob, 6-5 LeKendric  Longmire, and 6-4 Teondre Williams. They will not have 6-10 Michael Dunigan, who opted to play professionally in Israel.  This severely  limits their height: other than Jacob, only Tyrone Nared (6-8) is over 6-6.

So far, Altman has led them to a 3-1 record but against weak competition.  North Dakota State took them to overtime,  and they beat UCSB by just two.  They lost to San Jose State by two. They did pound Texas Southern however by 23.

On a rational basis, you have to expect that Duke will win. They are vastly more talented, more experienced, better coached, and have really almost every advantage. However, with just five players on the court at the time, basketball is not always a rational game. It depends on emotion, passion, and effort.

For Duke, the wildcard is this: how will Kyle Singler react to his homecoming?  Some guys thrive on that, and some guys clam up. Simply because Duke has most of the perceived advantages doesn't mean they necessarily translate to victory.