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NCAA Tournament Preview West Region - First Round (16) Hampton vs. (1) Duke

Friday, March 18 - Approximately 3:10 PM EST


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The Duke Blue Devils, the defending champions and the top seed in the West Region, will take on the 16th-seeded Hampton Pirates in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The 24-8 Pirates are coached by Edward Joyner, who is in his second year. The Pirates qualified for the tournament as the automatic bid winner from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), defeating Morgan State on March 12, 60-55, in the final of the MEAC Tournament. This game will be a match-up of opposing strengths, as the offensive firepower of Duke takes on the tough defense of the Pirates.

This is the Pirates' first trip to the tournament since 2006, and they will be looking for their first tournament win since 2001. The 2001 Pirates entered the tournament as a 15 seed, taking on the second-seeded Iowa State Cyclones and pulled off a shocking win that is regarded as one of the tournament's greatest upsets of all time. The memorable shot of Hampton coach Steve Merfeld being lifted into the air by his players remains (and will continue to be) one of the most iconic NCAA Tournament images ever recorded. That run for Hampton a decade ago ended with a loss to Georgetown in the second round. Subsequent trips to the Dance in 2002 - as a 15 seed - and 2006 - as a 16 seed - ended with a loss to Connecticut and a play-in loss to Monmouth. The Pirates are 1-3 all time in the tournament.

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On the bench opposite Joyner will be Mike Krzyzewski. His Blue Devils enter as the winners of the ACC Tournament after going 30-4 for the season and crushing North Carolina in this past Sunday's ACC title game, giving them their 19th ACC title in school history. Coach K comes into this tilt as the exact opposite of Joyner: Whereas Joyner has never coached in the tournament, Krzyzewski is a legend who has gone 77-22 in the tournament. Included in that record is the 6-0 mark the Blue Devils amassed last year on their way to the national championship.

The Blue Devils enter the tournament tenth in the nation in scoring, averaging 81.1 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting. Their rotation sees seven guys getting at least 15 minutes per game and two guys scoring at least 15 points per game, led by Nolan Smith's 21.3 points-per-game average, which makes him the nation's 14th-leading scorer. Duke allows 64.3 points per game, barely squeaking into the top 75. The Devils are in the top 25 in opponent field goal percentage, holding foes to 40-percent shooting.

On the other hand, Hampton is tied for 221st in the nation, averaging just 67.2 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting (tied for 300th in the nation). The team has eight guys getting at least ten minutes a game, led by guards Darrion Pellum (17.7 points per game) and Kwame Morgan II (16.5 points per game). Defensively, Hampton is ranked 35th in the nation, allowing just 62 points per game, good for best in the MEAC. The Pirates are also strong as a field goal percentage defense, ranking third in the nation by holding opponents to 37.9 percent shooting from the floor.

The Blue Devils have a clear size advantage in this matchup and will look for their bigs to help them put the Pirates away early. Duke will want to avoid letting the Pirates pick up confidence as the game goes on.

 

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer
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