Final Four Profile: Duke

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Updated: March 30, 2015
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Each day before Saturday’s Final Four match-ups, we’ll take an in-depth look at each of the four teams heading to Indianapolis this weekend. For the next four days, we’ll profile each regional champion, their strengths, their weaknesses and much, much more.

First up, the South Region Champions: the Duke Blue Devils.

 

How they got to Indianapolis: At-large bid, lost in ACC Tournament Semifinals

Round of 64 – Defeated 16) Robert Morris

Round of 32 – Defeated 8) San Diego State

Sweet 16 – Defeated 5) Utah

Elite Eight – Defeated 2) Gonzaga

 

1) Duke (33-4)

As the third overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Duke got the most favorable draw out of the four top seeds. The Blue Devils took advantage and advanced to their 16th Final Four.

Led by National Player of the Year candidate Jahlil Okafor and two other stellar freshmen — point guard Tyus Jones and the versatile Justise Winslow — the Blue Devils advanced to Indy and earned themselves a rematch with Michigan State on Saturday night.

 

State Farm Champions Classic (Nov. 18): Duke – 81, Michigan State – 71

In the first meeting between Duke and Michigan State in Indianapolis this season, the Blue Devils dominated the action from the opening tip, shooting 54 percent from the floor in their 10-point victory over Sparty back in November.

Four Duke players scored in double figures, led by Quinn Cook‘s 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Not only did the Blue Devils shoot 54 percent from the field, they shot 7-of-14 from long range and controlled the contest from the jump-off.

 

How Duke can leave Indy with a title:

– Jahlil Okafor plays like Jahlil Okafor on a big stage

When “Big Jah” plays like a dominant five-man, there’s not many in the college game that can stop him. If Duke gets their big man off and running, Duke’s as deadly as anyone in the country on the offensive end. When you have to focus on such a dominating presence down low, it opens the floor for Duke’s talented shot-makers like Jones, Cook and Winslow.

 

Why Duke won’t leave Indy with a title:

-Their lack of depth, size and the physical nature of MSU (and or Kentucky on Monday night) will be too much

Duke isn’t a deep team. When the Blue Devils lost Rasheed Sulaimon early in the year, their rotation got even shorter. Add in one, possibly two match-ups with teams that are bigger and tougher than them and it could spell disaster for the Blue Devils. Duke’s defense has improved over the course of the tournament, but their caliber of competition has risen a considerable amount now and it could be too much for them.

 

Can Duke win the National Championship? Yes, they can. Will the Blue Devils get it done? It’s not likely, but it’s possible.

If — and this time of the year, that’s a big “if” — Duke heats up and hits shots, along with a solid defensive performance, Duke can beat anyone in the country. Plus, having Mike Krzyzewski as head coach isn’t a bad thing either.

Don’t believe me?

This is the same team that won at Wisconsin (who plays Kentucky after Duke on Saturday night), at Virginia (ACC Regular Season Champion) and swept North Carolina (Sweet 16 team).

 

 

(Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

Mike Whitlow

Michael Whitlow is Sideline Sports Report’s college basketball editor. The 22-year-old from Fort Wayne, Indiana is currently a journalism major at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Michael calls Chicago, Illinois his home because of the sights, the sounds and passion Chicago sports fans show each and every day.

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