Utah versus Duke. Doesn't really roll off the tongue as a classic match up in any sport. Two basketball teams with a lot of history, just not history versus each other. Mike Krzyzewski's record versus the Utes is 0-0 in his 35 years career. It will be interesting to see how the game plays out Friday night, but unfortunately, these are three reasons, Utah loses to Duke.
Okafor the Win:
Jahlil Okafor, Duke's 6-11, 270-pound individual matchup nightmare. Okafor is only a freshman, but is a potential Wooden Award Winner and number one pick in this summer's NBA Draft. Only a few players in all of college basketball dominate the paint the way that Okafor does. In Duke's last match up versus San Diego State, he recorded 26 points on 12-for-16 shooting, grabbed six rebounds, two assists, and three blocks in their 19-point victory. Okafor is shooting 67.7% from the floor and averages 8.7 rebounds per game on the season. He has started every game for the the Blue Devils in 2015. The Utes will have a hard time shutting him down, unless they unearth some Kryptonite. If they don't, it may be a long night for the team from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Justice Winslow is going home for his game versus the Runnin' Utes. Winslow, who is also a freshman, played his high school basketball at St John's in Houston, Texas. Typically, neutral court spectators usually side with the underdog in the NCAA Tournament. In this case, Winslow may have a good portion of locals cheering on their hometown boy. Winslow doesn't appear to be distracted going home.
"We won the first two games, took care of that business, and now I get to go home to Houston, my hometown, so I’m very excited about that," Winslow said. "But at the end of the day, it’s a business trip. It’s about getting Duke two more wins."
Mike Krzyzewski (84-26 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, a .763 winning percentage) has been coaching the Duke Blue Devils for three decades. He has over 1,000 victories, 31 NCAA tournament bids, has taken 11 teams to the Final Four, and won four national titles.
In the Round of 32, Kryzewski led his team to a 68-49 win over San Diego State, a team Utah struggled with in a loss earlier in the season. Duke advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the 24th time in program history.
A resume like that would intimidate most teams before the opening tip. He knows how to coach. He knows how to win.
If Duke's freshman leader has a good game, the crowd gets behind Duke, and the Utes get out coached by a coaching legend, the Utes could be looking at a Sweet 16 exit, and will be watching the rest of the NCAA Tournament from home.