Earlier today, we brought you The Chronicle's prediction for tonight's Sweet 16 game between Duke and Villanova. And although our call is certain to be right—or at least Tim Britton's will be, whenever he gets hooked up to the Internet in Boston to provide us with his sage wisdom—we're more than willing to offer a few more predictions from around the Web.
For those gambling addicts, you already know the only prediction that matters: Duke's a 2-point favorite in Vegas.
If the teams didn't wear different shades of blue, the players might get confused. The squads are incredibly similar. Neither has a dominant post player. Both have sweet shooters who can play either guard position (Duke's Jon Scheyer and Nova's Scottie Reynolds). Both have long, complete players who can play inside and out (Duke's Kyle Singler and Nova's Dante Cunningham). Nova's ferocious defense might be the difference.Villanova 72-70.
Texas had the right game plan to take down Duke, it just didn't have the shooters. Villanova has the shooters. Look for Scottie Reynolds to attack the Blue Devils defense to get to the foul line or kick it out to open teammates who aren't shy about hoisting it up from 3-point land. Duke won't be as undermanned down low as they were against Texas, but Villanova's Dante Cunningham will present a challenge. Duke is hitting 47 percent from 3-point range through the first two rounds and likely can't afford to go cold against the Wildcats.
Nova looks at Duke and Duke looks at Nova and they should each see the same things—a guard-heavy lineup that plays physical defense, although in Nova's case, it defends more of the court.
There's no doubt playing at home helped Nova in the first round, a game they likely would have lost at another location. They responded with a strong win over UCLA in Round 2, though.
Duke stayed in its home state, but it had no such advantage in Greensboro. The Blue Devils out-lasted Texas in Round 2 and did so with 73 percent of its offense from its (I hate to use the overused moniker but) "Big Three" of Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson and John Scheyer.
Whatever talent advantage Nova has is offset by Duke's coaching advantage. That means it comes down to perimeter shooting (again) for Duke. If they can get into a halfcourt set—i.e. break Nova's halfcourt and three-quarter traps—they'll likely find the shots to win.
If Nova disrupts Scheyer and makes Duke the "Big Two," the Cats will advance. I think Scheyer is up to the task. Pick: Duke.
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