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Blue Devils weakened by strength
Question of the Day
It was clear 3-pointers would play a big role in yesterday’s game between Duke and West Virginia, won 73-67 by the Mountaineers. After all, Duke came into the tournament ranked 10th in the nation in 3-pointers made on the season, while West Virginia ranked 61st.
However, each team struggled to make shots from behind the arc. Both teams combined to make nine 3s in 33 attempts. Duke held West Virginia to 0-for-6 shooting on 3-pointers in the first half en route to a 34-29 halftime lead. But in the second half, weary-legged Duke shot 3-for-11 from 3 as it let the Mountaineers take control of the game. West Virginia, meanwhile, found at least a semblance of its stroke midway through the second half, scoring nine points from long distance in the midst of a 14-3 run to take the lead for good.
For Duke, that’s three consecutive games in which its outside shooting was absent. The Blue Devils shot just 6-for-21 on 3-pointers in their one-point win over Belmont on Thursday and also shot just 10-for-29 in a loss to Clemson in the ACC tournament. Too bad they couldn’t bring back J.J. Redick, Shane Battier, et al.
Nos. 12 and 13 battle for 16
Thanks to Friday’s madness in Tampa, Fla., today’s games between Villanova and Siena and Western Kentucky and San Diego mark the first time two No. 12 seeds and two No. 13 seeds will battle for a spot in the Sweet 16.
Before this year, there were five 12 vs. 13 games in the second round, but they never have happened twice in the same year. A 12-13 game last happened in 2001, when Gonzaga toppled Indiana State to earn a berth in the Sweet 16. (That year featured 13 first-round upsets, including 15th-seeded Hampton’s win over second-seeded Iowa State.)
The other four were:
• Valparaiso (13) over Florida State (12) in 1998.
• George Washington (12) over Southern (13) in 1993.
• New Mexico State (12) over Louisiana-Lafayette (13) in 1992.
• Eastern Michigan (12) over Penn State (13) in 1991.
There have been 14 instances of No. 12 seeds advancing to the round of 16, while No. 13 seeds have advanced to the third round on four occasions. Only one 12th seed — Missouri in 2002 — has made it to a regional final, while a 13th seed has never won three games in the same tournament.
Kansas State’s Michael Beasley and former Texas standout Kevin Durant have something additional in common: a second-round exit from the NCAA tournament. Beasley is considered a favorite to follow Durant as winner of the Wooden and Naismith awards for college basketball’s player of the year. But his Wildcats’ 72-55 loss to Wisconsin yesterday could extend to five a streak of recipients who did not appear in the Final Four. That would be the longest such streak in the 31-year history of the Wooden and 37-year history of the Naismith.
The last player of the year honoree to take his team to the Final Four was Texas’ T.J. Ford in 2003, and no winner has played on a national championship team since Duke’s Shane Battier in 2001.
By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
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