Vs. KANSAS (27-7)

DUKE (31-7)

April 01, 1991|By Don Markus

Outlook: Both these teams pulled upsets to get this far Though the Blue Devils might have had the biggest in their 79-77 shocker over Nevada-Las Vegas in the semifinals, the Jayhawks have beaten three teams -- Indiana, Arkansas and North Carolina --ranked in the top seven at the end of the regular season.

Position-by-position breakdown Guards: Duke point guard Bobby Hurley continues to redeem himself for last year's championship-game nightmare against UNLV, and if Hurley has another solid game, the Blue Devils should win. Not that fellow sophomore Adonis Jordan of Kansas will be intimidated by Hurley, or the circumstances of a championship game. Jordan scored 16 points, with seven assists in the semifinals, against North Carolina. Neither Thomas Hill (2-for-6, six points) nor Terry Brown (1-for-10 against the Tar Heels) was much of factor in the semifinals, and both have the capability to play better. EDGE: Duke.

Forwards: Freshman Grant Hill, who had not played that well in the NCAA tournament, got the Blue Devils off to a strong start against the Runnin' Rebels. Senior Greg Koubek did a great job holding down Larry Johnson (13 points). Though senior Mike Maddox and junior Alonzo Jamison don't have the strength of Johnson or the talent of Stacey Augmon, they could be just as tough. Maddox does a lot of little things -- getting offensive rebounds, setting picks, coming up with loose balls -- but he also can score (10 points against North Carolina). Jamison is a burgeoning star, both offensively and defensively. He took Rick Fox out of the semifinals, and showed that he could score against Arkansas. EDGE: Kansas.

Center: Duke's Christian Laettner is having the kind of tournament that has MVP written all over it. The 6-foot-11, 270-pound junior has become a power player, and a dominating one at that. His 28 points against UNLV -- 20 in the first half -- were only the latest indication. Though Kansas' Mark Randall became a friend of Laettner when they both played on the U.S. World Championship and Goodwill Games teams last summer, he likely will have his hands full tonight. Randall is no slouch, either, and is relentless on the boards. EDGE: Duke.

Bench: The Blue Devils got a big game Saturday from junior forward Brian Davis, who had 15 points and picked up a big charge on what turned out to be Greg Anthony's fifth personal. Sophomore guard Billy McCaffrey also contributed by hitting a couple of tough shots. The Jayhawks are a little deeper, and bigger, with freshman Richard Scott (14 points against North Carolina), junior Sean Tunstall and freshman Steve Woodberry. If the Jayhawks get a significant contribution from their bench, it could mean another championship. EDGE: Kansas.

Coaches: Mike Krzyzewski has been to the NCAA final three times in the past six seasons, and is overdue to win. He has challenged his team over its toughness, and apparently the message has gotten through. Now he has to make sure the Blue Devils get over Saturday's victory. Roy Williams, whose biggest victory to date was overshadowed by the ejection of his mentor, Dean Smith, in the semifinals, has proven that he belongs among the nation's best coaches. EDGE: Duke.

What the Blue Devils have to do to beat Kansas: Get the ball to Laettner inside, and to Grant Hill on the wing. If Hurley hits some early threes, it could be over quickly.

What the Jayhawks have to do to beat Duke: Try to get either Hurley or Laettner in foul trouble, and shut off the inside. Also, if the game is close, make their free throws, not a sure bet with the Jayhawks.

Prediction: Duke 85, Kansas 80.

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