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Potential Duke vs. UConn Matchup

By hagrin - Posted on 05 August 2006

Tonight, I watched UConn destroy the worst Syracuse team I have ever seen pretty easily. After the game, I went to the ESPN message boards to read the UConn threads and really started to think about the potential Duke vs. UConn matchup in the NCAA tournament.Long story short, Duke's in bad shape matchup wise (on paper), but in a one game situation after 4 or 5 games (assuming they both get #1 seeds) Duke could get a victory. Let's evaluate the matchups:

  • Point Guard:Sean Dockery/Greg Paulus vs. Marcus Williams - Greg Paulus, a freshman, is still starting in almost mid-February. However, he's shown to be reckless handling the ball, slow defensively and has been inconsistent on the offensive end. Assuming he plays the majority of the game (which isn't a certainty), UConn holds a major edge here. Williams is quicker, a better offensive player, a better rebounder and more experienced. However, if Coach K moves Dockery to the point for the majority of this game, the matchup is even since Dockery plays some of the best man-to-man defense in the country.
  • Shooting Guard: Dockery/J.J. Redick vs. Denham Brown - Duke has the edge here no matter if Dockery plays the 1 or the 2, but if Redick plays the 2 in this matchup, Redick can guard Brown and will be able to get his shot off on Brown instead of having to fight to get shots off and over the longer and more athletic Rudy Gay.
  • Small Forward: Redick/DeMarcus Nelson vs. Rudy Gay - Rudy Gay will be the best athlete on the floor. The only Duke player that may be able to slow him down is a healthy DeMarcus Nelson. If Nelson plays the 3, then he will have to focus on preventing Gay from driving to the basket and preventing him from getting open outside looks. In addition, Nelson is a good enough rebounder to keep Gay from dominating the boards from the 3 position. However, if Redick plays the small forward, Gay will dominate this matchup as long as he commits himself on the defensive end. Gay is longer and more athletic than Redick and these types of defenders have been the only type of player to slow Redick down this year (see Memphis' Carney and Williams). Either way, Gay will have a 5-6 inch height advantage.
  • Power Forward: Josh McRoberts vs. Josh Boone - Interestingly enough, right now it's too close to call, but Boone does get the advantage in stregnth and experience. However, McRoberts has superior athleticism and has been much stronger since only playing 12 minutes against Georgetown. Boone and McRoberts could cancel each other out on the offensive end, but Boone does have the advantage in weak side shot blocking and rebounding.
  • Center: Shelden Williams vs. Hilton Armstrong - Armstrong is one of the most improved players on UConn and is a great shot blocker, but Williams does have the advantage here with more consistent nights and experience. The key to this matchup is foul trouble - if Williams stays out of foul trouble, he will stay aggresisve. However, if Williams picks up early fouls, he becomes too tentative (trying not to foul out) and Duke's interior defense breaks down (see the NC State, Indiana and Florida State games).
  • Bench: - A Duke Bench? What's that? Duke will go a max of 6-7 deep against UConn while UConn can go 10 deep and really not lose much in the way of talent. UConn has a huge edge in depth.

All this being said, in a one game situation, Duke could pull off a victory. However, for that to happen, JJ has to be special that night and Williams and McRoberts need to stay out of early foul trouble and remain aggressive inside the paint. The edge is currently to UConn, but it's only early February.