Men's championship

April 02, 2001|By Don Markus and Christian Ewell

Tonight's final

Site: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis

Duke (34-4) vs. Arizona (28-7)

Time: 9:18

TV: Chs. 13, 9

How they got here: Duke overcame a 22-point deficit in the first half to beat Maryland in the national semifinals. Arizona outscored Michigan State 16-1 to begin the second half and win the other semifinal.

Coaches: Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has a 605-223 record in 26 seasons overall, 532-164 at Duke, including nine Final Four appearances and two national titles. Lute Olson is 639-224 with five Final Four appearances in 28 years of coaching, including a 446-132 record at Arizona that includes one national title.

Point guard: Jason Williams started poorly against Maryland, and seems to be in a bit of a shooting slump. After going on a tear in victories over Missouri and UCLA, as well as in the first half in Duke's regional final win over Southern California, Williams has cooled off considerably. Jason Gardner led Arizona with 21 points and had three steals during the win over Michigan State. All three of his three-pointers broke ties against the Spartans. His primary role is to defend and allow the other four starters to score, but he's a proven scorer as well. Williams will present matchup problems for nearly everyone who goes against him, and might be a little too strong for Gardner, as he was for USC's Brandon Granville and UCLA's Earl Watson. While he has said he plans on returning to Duke next season, don't be surprised if this is Williams' last college game.

Edge: Duke.

Shooting guard: Arizona's Gilbert Arenas was still recovering from whiplash yesterday and will probably not be at full strength. Partial strength was good enough for him to make four second-half steals on the way to a semifinal record of six. Chris Duhon is one of the keys to Duke's defense, and Krzyzewski will likely use the 6-foot-1 freshman against Gardner if he is fully recovered from the effects of the mild concussion he suffered against the Terrapins. Duhon showed his toughness - and a lack of sanity - by going back in the game against Maryland with a minute left. Since being inserted into the starting lineup when Carlos Boozer was injured, Duhon has come into his own as a good third option for the Blue Devils. The Wildcats' top scorer, Arenas (16.3 ppg) can shoot the ball well from outside and is adept at getting to the basket. Defense will be his major contribution, however, and he may get the first crack at shutting down Williams.

Edge: Even.

Center: Duke's Casey Sanders has developed more since taking over the starting job when Boozer was injured in late February, and is less worried about committing fouls now that Boozer is back. Boozer will likely play more minutes, but Sanders is long enough to give Loren Woods a little trouble at the start of the game. But Woods, who adept at shooting, passing and defense, is starting to put a string of good games together. He had 11 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, and Arizona will need another solid performance from him to win. He and Michael Wright will be responsible for establishing an inside game early, and because of his mobility, it is more likely that he will defend the all-around threat of Shane Battier.

Edge: Arizona.

Power forward: After going 60 minutes without a point, Wright scored 13 points in the second half once his teammates made a determined effort to get the ball to him. He's similar to Maryland's Lonny Baxter, who Duke shut down Saturday. Unlike Baxter, he's not comfortable following players outside, so he'll probably end up assigned to guard Sanders or Boozer. Battier missed his first four shots and was looking a step slow against the Terps, but he showed why he has won eight player-of-the-year awards, finishing with 25 points and sparking a defense that made life miserable for Maryland in the second half. (He, too, benefited from his reputation, picking up his first personal foul with a little under 10 minutes left in the game.)

Edge: Duke.

Small forward: Mike Dunleavy was one of the few Blue Devils who started well in the semifinals, and was active in keeping balls alive or tapping them in. An erratic shooter, the son of the Portland Trail Blazers coach could be very effective in what should be a run-and-gun game. Richard Jefferson is also wonderful in the open court, not to mention from beyond the arc. He also hit three of five three-pointers and had 17 points to go with eight rebounds against Michigan State. The Wildcat collected another defensive pelt by holding Michigan State All-American Jason Richardson to 2-for-11 shooting. He's another candidate to guard Williams, though he can also match up with Battier or Dunleavy, who should get some open looks if Arizona double-teams inside.

Edge: Arizona.

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