Maryland vs. Duke

Ncaa Tournament

The Final Four

March 31, 2001

Prediction: Duke has the edge in experience, and you never have to wait long for one of its offensive outbursts. But there's something about the Terps' confidence that makes Maryland look especially dangerous. The Terps do not fear Duke. That's why they'll win tonight, 88-84.

How the teams match up

Point guard

Steve Blake vs. Jason Williams

Steve Blake, Maryland: Blake is as good as any distributor of the ball, although he still is prone to taking ill-advised chances and committing turnovers as a result. When he is on his game defensively, few are better. And he has stepped up as a scorer recently by producing double figures eight times in his past 17 games. If he can contain Williams once again, Maryland stands an excellent chance of winning.

Jason Williams, Duke: The only question about this dynamic sophomore is: How long before he leaves Durham for the NBA? Floor leaders do not get any better than Williams, who enjoys tremendous freedom in coach Mike Krzyzewski's system. His ability to combine drives to the basket with excellent outside shooting is unsurpassed. He's not as pass-oriented as Blake, but Williams has scored 115 points in the NCAAs.

Edge: Duke

Shooting guard

Juan Dixon vs. Chris Duhon

Juan Dixon, Maryland: A tireless worker off the ball who relishes the chance to produce steals, Dixon is the heart of the team. He has led the Terps all season in scoring (18.4 ppg) because he is an equal threat from three-point range or driving to the basket and drawing fouls. He is the team's best free-throw shooter and its best defender. It's hard to envision the Terps knocking off Duke without another great game by the junior from Calvert Hall.

Chris Duhon, Duke: When he joined the starting lineup after the foot injury to center Carlos Boozer, Duhon's transition was not that dramatic, because he had been piling up more than 25 minutes a game as the Blue Devils' top sub. He bothered Dixon noticeably in the last Maryland-Duke game in the ACC tournament semifinals. He has proved he can hit big shots and make clutch passes, and the freshman has shown no signs of fatigue.

Edge: Maryland

Small forward

Byron Mouton vs. Mike Dunleavy

Byron Mouton, Maryland: This position actually has evolved into a two-headed monster that includes Danny Miller, who is averaging more minutes than Mouton in the NCAAs. Mouton is a streaky scorer whose biggest assets are his dogged rebounding, his ability to create shots among bigger people down low and his all-out energy. He has been cold offensively since scoring 22 in a first-round victory over George Mason.

Mike Dunleavy, Duke: A future high NBA draft pick, Dunleavy is one of the top swingmen in the game. He's a dead-eye shooter on the wing and is deceptively good off the dribble. He often takes a back seat to Jason Williams and Shane Battier, but he has made countless big shots during the Blue Devils' Final Four march. Miller is riding a hot hand defensively, and his battle with Dunleavy could be among the game's most compelling.

Edge: Duke

Power forward

Terence Morris vs. Shane Battier

Terence Morris, Maryland: Maryland could probably use the 27th career double double from Morris tonight. It's been a puzzling season for the preseason All-American, who rarely leads the Terps in scoring and goes for lengthy stretches without even looking to score. But his quietly efficient floor game -- he rebounds well, blocks a lot of shots, passes well, plays consistently good defense -- has balanced out a season in which he has shot poorly.

Shane Battier, Duke: If there is a better example of someone who has mastered the all-around game, we haven't seen it. Battier used to be known primarily for his unselfish play as a premier defender. He still plays terrific defense, but he combines that with a deadly three-point shot, the ability to drive to the basket and get to the foul line and excellent rebounding. Morris will need help from Tahj Holden to contain the Player of the Year.

Edge: Duke

Center

Lonny Baxter vs. Casey Sanders

Lonny Baxter, Maryland: He has battled foul trouble and foul-shooting problems all season, but Baxter is playing the best basketball of his three-year career at the right time. A deceptively quick 250-pounder, Baxter, 6-8, makes up for his height disadvantage with rugged rebounding and strong post moves. The West Regional's Most Outstanding Player needs to continue his roll. He has 69 points and 34 rebounds in his past three efforts.

Casey Sanders, Duke: He will get plenty of help from Boozer, who has returned to the lineup after overcoming a broken foot suffered on Feb. 27 in a 91-80 loss to Maryland in Durham. Sanders, a great leaper at 6-11, gave the Terps significant problems on the offensive glass in Duke's 84-82 victory over the Terps in the ACC tournament three weeks ago. He is the Blue Devils' most improved player.

Edge: Maryland

Bench

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